A contrite U.S. congressman apologized today for angrily threatening to “break” a reporter in half and throw him off a balcony in a House office building rotunda after President Obama’s State of the Union speech.
The reporter, NY1′s Michael Scotto, tweeted today that Rep. Michael Grimm, a Republican from New York City’s Staten Island borough, “called to apologize. He said he ‘overreacted.’ I accepted his apology.”
It was the second time Grimm addressed his on-camera outburst on Tuesday night, although the first time he said he “verbally took the reporter to task and told him off,” and did not apologize.
Trying to contain a fury that has risen around the incident, Grimm talked briefly to reporters today after casting a vote on the Farm Bill. He expressed regret and said his grandmother wouldn’t have approved of his language.
“Bottom line, I was wrong. It shouldn’t have happened,” Grimm said. “I called Michael Scotto. I apologized and he was very gracious, accepted my apology. We’re going to have lunch real soon. I told him I wanted to invite him to lunch and he looks forward to that and put this behind him.”
“This was an unfortunate incident [that] shouldn’t have happened,” Grimm said, “and I’m sure my Italian mother is going to be yelling at me, saying, ‘You weren’t raised that way,’ and she’s right.”
Asked why he thought Scotto’s question – about a federal campaign-finance probe – was an unfair one, Grimm didn’t answer directly.
“I’m going to be fair to Michael Scotto. Like I said, I apologized and I’m going to leave it at that,” Grimm told ABC News.
Asked again by reporters about the fairness of Scotto’s question, Grimm recounted running from interview to interview after the State of the Union address. The interview with NY1 had been arranged on the premise that it would only touch on State of the Union-related questions, Grimm said.
Grimm, who is under federal investigation over his 2010 campaign financing, refused to answer a question from Scotto about the investigation.
But as the cameras continued rolling, Grimm returned to physically confront Scotto, and, according to a transcript posted by NY1, threatened him.
“Let me be clear to you, you ever do that to me again I’ll throw you off this f***ing balcony,” Grimm said.
After several seconds, the confrontation continued slightly off-camera, but Grimm added more as he walked away.
“No, no, you’re not man enough, you’re not man enough. I’ll break you in half. Like a boy,” he said.
You can watch it all here.
Grimm issued a statement, slamming what he called the reporter’s “disrespectful and cheap shots.”
“I was extremely annoyed because I was doing NY1 a favor by rushing to do their interview first in lieu of several other requests,” Grimm said in the statement provided to NY1.
“The reporter knew that I was in a hurry and was only there to comment on the State of the Union, but insisted on taking a disrespectful and cheap shot at the end of the interview. … I verbally took the reporter to task and told him off, because I expect a certain level of professionalism and respect, especially when I go out of my way to do that reporter a favor. I doubt that I am the first member of Congress to tell off a reporter, and I am sure I won’t be the last.”
NY1 Political Director Bob Hardt also released a statement.
“It is extremely disturbing when anyone threatens one of our reporters – let alone a U.S. congressman,” Hardt said. ”The NY1 family is certainly alarmed and disappointed by the behavior of Rep. Grimm and demands a full apology from him. This behavior is unacceptable.”