The reporter assaulted by Rep. Greg Gianforte on his election’s eve is demanding the congressman and his staff cease and desist from further false and defamatory statements about the incident.
In a letter obtained by Independent Journal Review, lawyers for Guardian reporter Ben Jacobs cited a widely distributed statement released by Gianforte spokesman Travis Hall Nov. 17 that “no one was misled” in response to Gallatin County police records released that stated Gianforte had initially tried to mislead police following the May 24 assault.
The letter from attorney Geoffrey H. Genth also noted that Hall’s statement, included in reports by MTN News and other Montana outlets, directly contradicted Gianforte’s own June 7 letter to Jacobs, when the congressman stated that Jacobs “did not initiate any physical contact with me.”
MTN News has reached out to Hall for comment.
Gianforte pleaded guilty to the assault and apologized to Jacobs. He was sentenced to community service, anger management classes and a $385 fine in June. His mug shot was released by a judge's order in October.
Initially, however, his campaign had tried to deflect blame to Jacobs. In a statement in the hours after the assault, Gianforte campaign spokesman Shane Scanlon had issued a statement stating that Jacobs had “grabbed Greg’s wrist, and spun away from Greg, pushing them both to the ground."
Gianforte defeated Democrat Rob Quist in the special election to replace Republican Ryan Zinke, who had resigned to become the U.S. Secretary of the Interior. The assault and its fallout has made national and international headlines.