| MISSOULA, Mont.
MISSOULA, Mont. May 24 Montana Republican
congressional candidate Greg Gianforte was accused of physically
assaulting a reporter on the campaign trail on Wednesday, the
eve of a special election to fill the state's lone seat in the
U.S. House of Representatives.
Ben Jacobs, a political correspondent for the U.S. edition
of The Guardian newspaper, said in a Twitter post that Gianforte
had "body slammed" him, breaking the reporter's eyeglasses, at a
campaign event in Bozeman.
"There was a local TV crew there when Gianforte body slammed
me. Audio is posting soon @GuardianUS," Jacobs tweeted.
The allegation could not be immediately confirmed, but the
candidate countered that Jacobs had instigated an altercation.
Gianforte's campaign issued a statement saying a physical
confrontation with Jacobs occurred when the reporter entered the
candidate's office "without permission, aggressively shoved a
recorder in Greg's face and began asking badgering questions."
"After asking Jacobs to lower the recorder, Jacobs
declined," the written statement from campaign spokesman Shane
Scanlon said. "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."
The statement concluded: "It's unfortunate that this
aggressive behavior from a liberal journalist created this scene
at our campaign volunteer BBQ."
CNN played an audio recording purporting to have captured
the sound of the incident, in which a voice believed to be that
of Gianforte is heard yelling: "I'm sick and tired of you guys
... the last guy did the same damned thing."
After loud scuffling noises are heard, the voice yells: "Get
the hell out of here," and another voice, presumably that of
Jacobs, is heard saying that Gianforte had just broken his
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."
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
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.
(Additional reporting and writing by Steve Gorman; Editing by