Tomorrow is the Montana special election to fill the seat in the House of Representatives left vacant by Ryan Zinke, who is now Secretary of the Interior.
Ben Jacobs, a reporter for The Guardian, was covering an event for Republican candidate Greg Gianforte when he asked a question about the CBO score for the AHCA.
This took place at the Gianforte campaign headquarters in Bozeman, Montana.
Via The Guardian:
Ben Jacobs, a Guardian political reporter, was asking Greg Gianforte, a tech millionaire running for the seat vacated by Ryan Zinke, about the Republican healthcare plan when the candidate allegedly “body-slammed” the reporter.
“He took me to the ground,” Jacobs said by phone from the back of an ambulance. “This is the strangest thing that has ever happened to me in reporting on politics.”
Jacobs subsequently reported the incident to the police. Gianforte’s campaign did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Audio of the abortive interview recorded by Jacobs captures the altercation, and appears to reference previous questioning from another Guardian reporter. “I’m sick and tired of you guys,” Gianforte said. “The last guy who came here did the same thing. Get the hell out of here. Get the hell out of here. The last guy did the same thing. Are you with the Guardian?”
“Yes! You just broke my glasses,” Jacobs replied.
“The last guy did the same damn thing,” Gianforte said.
“You just body slammed me and broke my glasses,” Jacob said.
“Get the hell out of here,” Gianforte yelled.
Other reporters witnessed at least part of the altercation from outside the door which squares with the audio and Jacobs' account.
Gianforte spokesman Shane Scanlon just released a statement which contradicts what can be heard on the audio.
"Tonight, as Greg was giving a separate interview in a private office, The Guardian's Ben Jacobs entered the office without permission, aggressively shoved a recorder in Greg's face, and began asking badgering questions," the statement said.
"Jacobs was asked to leave. 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 behavior from a liberal journalist created this scene at our campaign volunteer BBQ," the statement concluded.
Jacobs called into Chris Hayes' show and said he was getting his elbow x-rayed, because he landed on it when he fell. He sounded shaken, telling Hayes nothing like this has ever happened to him before.
Will it matter in tomorrow's election? Will Montanans care that Gianforte is a thug who won't give a straight answer to them on their health care?
Stay tuned. We shall see.
UPDATE: Apparently, there is a motive.
Here are more details on that.
According to a financial disclosure filed with the clerk of the House of Representatives, the Montana tech mogul owns almost $150,000 worth of shares in VanEck Vectors Russia ETF and $92,400 in the IShares MSCF Russia ETF fund. Both are indexed to the Russian equities market and have significant holdings in companies such as Gazprom and Rosneft that came under US sanctions in the aftermath of the Russian invasion of the Crimea.
The holdings, while substantial, make up only a small portion of Gianforte’s wealth. The congressional candidate, who made a fortune starting a software company which was later sold to Oracle, has assets estimated to be worth between $65m and $315m, according to his financial disclosure.