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“I would’ve shot him.” Montana Republican says body-slamming congressman didn’t go far enough

 

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article titled “Republican official ‘would have shot’ Guardian reporter attacked by Gianforte” was written by Amanda Holpuch in New York, for theguardian.com on Saturday 21st October 2017 17.35 UTC

A Montana Republican party official “would have shot” Guardian reporter Ben Jacobs if he had approached her as he did Greg Gianforte, who assaulted Jacobs one day before he was elected to Congress.

Jacobs approached Gianforte in May, in a room where he was about to give a television interview. The Republican slammed Jacobs to the floor, breaking his glasses, and then punched him several times.

Gianforte pleaded guilty to misdemeanor assault, apologized to Jacobs and donated ,000 to the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ).

“If that kid had done to me what he did to Greg, I would have shot him,” Karen Marshall, vice-president of programs for Gallatin County Republican Women told the Voice of Montana radio program on Thursday.

Marshall also described herself as a “friend” of Gianforte. According to federal records, a Karen Marshall from Bozeman, Montana, donated the federal maximum of ,700 to Gianforte’s campaign for Congress.

The altercation occurred in a private room at a campaign event, after Jacobs asked Gianforte a question about healthcare. Several reporters were invited to the event, a picnic.

“That kid came on private property, came into a private building, and went into a very private room that I would not even have gone into,” Marshall said. “It was a setup. A complete setup. He just pushed a little too hard.”

Travis Hall, a spokesperson for Gianforte, told the Helena Independent Record: “Greg disagrees with those remarks, repudiates them and remains focused on being a strong voice for Montana in Washington.”

Gianforte first accused Jacobs of assaulting him, then apologized and took full responsibility for the attack. He was sentenced to community service, a 5 fine and 20 hours of anger management therapy. He also pledged to sit down with Jacobs for an on-the-record interview. That meeting has not happened.

Earlier this month, the CPJ said its own seven-minute meeting with Gianforte at the US Capitol was “disappointingly brief”. When the group suggested Gianforte could join groups such as the bipartisan Congressional Caucus for Freedom of the Press, the congressman’s chief of staff replied: “Greg didn’t come here to join clubs.”

Also in October, Gianforte’s mugshot was released, after a legal effort to keep it from the public. Jacobs’ broken glasses have been displayed at the Newseum in Washington DC.

Marshall made her comments during a call into the radio station’s question and answer session with John Heenan, a Democrat who hopes to run against Gianforte in 2018. Heenan did not respond immediately but his campaign later sent a press release condemning Marshall’s statements.

“The fact members of [Gianforte’s] party are sort of doubling down and wishing worse harm on Ben Jacobs really bothers me,” Heenan said in the release. “There’s just no place in politics for this type of violent rhetoric. It’s not a partisan issue.”

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