Reporter allegedly body-slammed by Republican candidate Greg Gianforte speaks out

Ben Jacobs of The Guardian said he's still in shock.

ByABC News
May 25, 2017, 7:26 AM

— -- Reporter Ben Jacobs of The Guardian said he's still in shock after Greg Gianforte, the Republican candidate in Montana's special House contest, allegedly body-slammed him on the eve of the election, which is being eyed nationally.

"I'm recovering. It's been a shocking, stunning 12 hours, and I'm still sort of taking a lot of Advil and trying to get better," Jacobs told ABC News chief anchor George Stephanopoulos on "Good Morning America" today.

Jacobs said he approached Gianforte, a former technology executive, at a meet-and-greet event Wednesday night at the candidate's office in Bozeman, Montana. Jacobs allegedly went up to Gianforte to get his opinion on the Congressional Budget Office's analysis of the American Health Care Act as he was preparing for a television interview. All of a sudden, Gianforte "seemed to just snap," Jacobs said.

"He grabbed my recorder, and next thing I knew, I'd gone from being vertical to horizontal on the floor," he said on "GMA."

"He was on top of me and wailing on me," Jacobs added.

The Guardian posted an audio recording of the encounter today.

In the recording, after Jacobs asks a question, Gianforte says, "We'll talk to you about that later."

Jacobs asks again, and Gianforte refers him to a spokesman. A scuffle ensues.

"I'm sick and tired of you guys," Gianforte says. "The last guy who came in here ... did the same thing. Get the hell out of here."

After the alleged incident, Jacobs wrote on Twitter, "Greg Gianforte just body slammed me and broke my glasses."

Gianforte has been charged with misdemeanor assault, according to the Gallatin County Sheriff's Office.

"Following multiple interviews and an investigation by the Gallatin County Sheriff's Office, it was determined there was probable cause to issue a citation to Greg Gianforte for misdemeanor assault," the sheriff's office said in a statement on its website Wednesday night.

The statement added that the "nature of the injuries did not meet the statutory elements of felony assault."

As a result of the citation, Gianforte is scheduled to appear in Gallatin County Justice Court between now and June 7.

At a press conference Wednesday, Gallatin County Sheriff Brian Gootkin said that four people were present for the alleged assault.

Before the charges were filed, Gianforte's spokesman Shane Scanlon issued a statement, placing the blame on Jacobs and claiming the candidate's actions were a response to Jacobs' pushing a phone in Gianforte's face during "a separate interview in a private office" that he entered "without permission."

"Jacobs was asked to leave. After asking Jacobs to lower the recorder, Jacobs declined," according to the statement. "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."

In the interview this morning on "GMA," Jacobs said he "never touched or came close to" the candidate and has had "no personal interactions" with Gianforte other than following him to a couple of campaign stops.

"My understanding is that his issues were based on a report that a colleague of mine had done a couple of weeks ago and had been somehow unhappy or discontented with that and that had apparently set him off," Jacobs said.

He said he's unsure whether he will take further legal action against Gianforte.

"I haven't even begun to think about it. I still have an election to report on in 12 hours, so that's the first priority," Jacobs said. "I still have a job to do."

ABC News' Katie Kindelan contributed to this report.

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