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New documents show contradictory statements in Gianforte’s assault on reporter

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MTN News file photo. MTN News file photo.

Newly-released documents examined by The Guardian show Representative Greg Gianforte made contradictory statements about his pre-election assault on a newspaper reporter, telling deputies the reporter grabbed him, starting the assault.

But a few weeks later, Gianforte said in a formal apology that reporter Ben Jacobs “did not initiate physical contact with me”, saying he had “no right” to assault Jacobs, a completely different depiction from his description to Gallatin County Sheriff’s deputies. 

Exactly what happened during the May 24th campaign event in Bozeman was unclear in the immediate hours after the assault which preceded the special election held the following day. Initially, Gianforte’s campaign spokesman said that Jacobs started the incident, claiming that he “grabbed Greg’s wrist, and spun away from Greg, pushing them both to the ground.”

But within minutes, an audio recording released by The Guardian suggested it was Gianforte who grew angry as Jacobs tried to ask the GOP candidate about his position on healthcare legislation. 

The Guardian report released on Friday analyzed newly-released sheriff’s reports, where Gianforte told investigators Jacobs made the first physical contact, and that the “liberal media…is just trying to make a story.” 

Gianforte would plead guilty to misdemeanor assault, paying a fine and performing community service, in addition to formally apologizing to Jacobs.

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