Republican Candidate Greg Gianforte Allegedly Body Slams Guardian Reporter to the Floor, Breaks His Glasses in Montana

Reporter Ben Jacobs was asking Gianforte a question about health care when the candidate allegedly attacked him

Republican congressional candidate Greg Gianforte looks on during a campaign meet and greet at Lions Park on May 23, 2017 in Great Falls, Montana.
JUSTIN SULLIVAN/AFP

A Guardian reporter accused the Republican candidate for Montana's congressional seat of slamming him to the floor and breaking his glasses on Wednesday, the eve of the state's special election. 

Ben Jacobs, a Guardian political reporter, was asking candidate Greg Gianforte a question about a new Republican health care plan at an event in Bozeman when the Trump-endorsed candidate "body-slammed" him, the British news website reported.

An audio recording of the altercation, made by Jacobs, follows:

According to The Guardian, Jacobs filed a police complaint. The Gallatin County Sheriff's Office issued Gianforte a citation for misdemeanor assault shortly after.

Fox News reporter Alicia Acuna, who was present in the room with Gianforte and Jacobs, confirmed that the candidate attacked the reporter.

"Gianforte grabbed Jacobs by the neck with both hands and slammed him into the ground behind him. Faith, Keith and I watched in disbelief as Gianforte then began punching the man, as he moved on top the reporter and began yelling something to the effect of 'I'm sick and tired of this!'" she reported.

Another political writer, Alexis Levinson, a reporter for BuzzFeed News, who was at the campaign event, tweeted that Jacobs had walked into a room where a local TV crew was set up for an interview with the Republican candidate. 

"All of a sudden I heard a giant crash and saw Ben's feet fly in the air as he hit the floor," Levinson tweeted. She said she then heard yelling that sounded like Gianforte. 

She said Jacobs emerged from the room "holding his broken glasses in his hand and said: 'He just bodyslammed me.'"

Levinson said Gianforte then retreated to another room with an aide and "closed the door." 

A statement issued by Gianforte's campaign blamed Jacobs for the incident, saying the reporter "shoved a recorder in Greg's face, and began asking badgering questions."

“Jacobs was asked to leave,” the statement reads. “After asking Jacobs to lower the recorder, Jacobs declined. Greg then attempted to grab the phone that was pushed in his face. Jacobs grabbed Greg’s wrist, and spun away from Greg, pushing them both to the ground.

“It’s unfortunate that this aggressive behavior from a liberal journalist created this scene at our campaign volunteer BBQ.”

Gianforte, a tech executive, is running against Democrat Rob Quist, a banjo-playing political novice who hopes to pull off a surprise victory in the Republican-leaning state. 

The two men are vying for the House seat vacated when President Donald Trump named Ryan Zinke as U.S. interior secretary. 

The Gallatin County Sheriff's Office said in a statement it "is currently investigating allegations of an assault involving Greg Gianforte. We will provide a press release with more information when appropriate. The investigation is ongoing." 

Quist, attending another campaign event in Missoula, declined to comment on early reports of the incident involving his Republican rival. 

Reuters contributed to this report