Montana US Rep.-elect Gianforte apologizes to reporter for assault before election

Montana Republican congressman-elect Greg Gianforte learned his sentence in court Monday morning after pleading guilty to a misdemeanor assault of The Guardian reporter Ben Jacobs in a May 24 incident at Gianforte's campaign headquarters.

Gallatin County Justice Court Judge Rick West gave Gianforte a 180-day deferred jail sentence.

Jacobs, a reporter with the The Guardian, was in Montana covering the election and had been questioning Gianforte about the GOP health-care bill before Congress when the assault occurred.

BOZEMAN, MT - MAY 25: Republican Greg Gianforte speaks to supporters after being declared the victor at a election night party for Montana's special House election against Democrat Rob Quist at the Hilton Garden Inn on May 25, 2017 in Bozeman, Montana. He already had agreed to donate $50,000 to the Committee to Protect Journalists in a settlement with Jacobs.

"I have accepted Mr Gianforte's apology and his willingness to take responsibility for his actions and statements", Jacobs said in a statement.

Jacobs attended the sentencing hearing Monday and engaged in a back and forth with Gianforte, who said he looked forward to sitting down with the reporter on Capitol Hill for a real interview once he was "ready", reported the Daily Chronicle.

It also thrust him into "a national spotlight I did not seek or desire", Jacobs reportedly said.

After the attack, Jacobs said Gianforte then sent an "inflammatory public statement in which he insisted this unprovoked. attack was somehow my fault", Jacobs said.

Gianforte, though, said on Monday he didn't mean to hurt Jacobs but that "I understand Ben was injured". I'm reaching out to associations across the state and starting to make plans in the next couple days. And I'm not proud of what happened.

As part of a civil settlement in June, Jacobs said he would not object to Gianforte entering a nolo contendere plea, or one of no contest.

But the apology and donation are not enough to right this wrong - and we will soon see how sorry Gianforte really is. 'You were doing your job'. Gianforte said he did.

"The people of Montana need a representative in Congress", Nancy Keenan, executive director of the Montana Democratic Party, said in a statement.

The Gianforte story brought into focus how toxic, sophomoric, and vulgar our political culture has become. Neither during today's hearing or during a brief press conference afterwards did Gianforte or his staff say why his campaign at the time blamed the assault on, quote, "aggressive behavior from a liberal journalist", unquote.

Several journalists who Ginaforte did not call on tried to ask that question as Gianforte and his staff walked away.

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