Greg Gianforte has apologized for allegedly body-slamming a journalist – after declaring victory in the heated Montana U.S. House election.
“When you make a mistake, you have to own up to it,” the Republican told the crowd at his election night rally on Thursday in Bozeman, according to CNN. “That’s the Montana way. Last night I made a mistake. I took an action that I can’t take back and I’m not proud of what happened.”
Gianforte, 56, has been charged with misdemeanor assault for allegedly attacking The Guardian political reporter Ben Jacobs after the journalist asked a question about the GOP’s controversial health care bill. Jacobs alleges that Gianforte shoved him to the ground.
“I should not have responded in the way that I did,” Gianforte said. “For that, I’m sorry. I should not have treated that reporter that way and, for that, I’m sorry Mr. Ben Jacobs.”
Gianforte is expected to appear in court for the charge by June 7, ABC News reports. In a statement, Gianforte’s spokesperson, issued a statement claiming that Jacobs entered the headquarters without permission and was the aggressor in the situation.
However, Jacobs detailed the incident in the back of an ambulance after the alleged attack, telling The Guardian,“[Gianforte] took me to the ground.”
“I think he wailed on me once or twice,” Jacobs continued. “He got on me and I think he hit me … This is the strangest thing that has ever happened to me in reporting on politics.”
A Fox News reporter who witnessed the chaotic scene wrote that “Gianforte grabbed Jacobs by the neck with both hands and slammed him into the ground behind him. [We] watched in disbelief as Gianforte then began punching the reporter.”
Jacobs also captured the incident in an audio recording, in which Gianforte can be heard yelling at the reporter.
“I’m sick and tired of you guys!” Gianforte said after trying to dodge a question. “The last guy who came here did the same thing. Get the hell out of here.”
Sheriff Brian Gootkin announced in a press conference Wednesday night that after conducting an investigation and interviews, “there was probable cause to issue a citation to Greg Gianforte for misdemeanor assault.”
He added that “the nature of the injuries did not meet the statutory elements of felony assault.”