Republican candidate charged with assault, roiling Trump's Montana test

Approximately a third of Montana's eligible voters had cast absentee ballots before Gianforte was cited Wednesday by the Gallatin County Sheriff's Office following a confrontation with Guardian reporter Ben Jacobs.

Democrat Rob Quist, a banjo-playing folk singer and first-time candidate, is facing off against Republican tech executive Greg Gianforte in a tightening race for the U.S. House of Representatives seat vacated when President Donald Trump named Ryan Zinke as secretary of the interior.

Republicans have held the state's single seat in the House for two decades.

"But I can understand how somebody could push somebody's buttons", she said. "I don't advocate violence, but when you're told to back off, you need to back off". "I just don't have much faith", Christie said.

It wasnt clear how the last-minute melee would affect the race.

House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., said what occurred was "wrong and should not happen".

Quist said he called Gianforte, who also has never held political office, to offer his congratulations, encouraging the Republican to continue to reach out to all Montanans. "Politics are pretty entrenched right now in terms of who people are going to follow and who people are going to vote for".

"The Guardian is deeply appalled by how our reporter, Ben Jacobs, was treated in the course of doing his job as a journalist while reporting on the Montana special election", said the editor, Lee Glendinning. Mr. Gianforte said he would get to him later and Jacobs tried again and he said to talk to Shane, his press guy, and at that point, that's when Mr. Gianforte grabbed Jacobs by the neck or the upper body with both hands on him, picked him, dragged him, slammed him to the ground, jumped on him, started punching him and started saying I'm sick and exhausted of this and at that point Jacobs kind of got away from him. He then apologized directly to Jacobs and to the witnesses.

In an audio recording posted by The Guardian, Jacobs began asking the candidate about the health care bill passed by the House when the Fox crew and Jacobs say Gianforte slammed him to the floor, yelling "Get out of here!" "I'm sick and exhausted of you guys", Gianforte is heard saying.

"You just body slammed me and broke my glasses", Jacobs said moments later.

MSNBC's Joe Scarborough used the physical assault of a reporter by Montana GOP congressional candidate Greg Gianforte to rip President Trump for his "thuggish behavior".

Lambert, who was elected as a Republican, says he knows Gianforte but not well.

The Gianforte campaign, it added, "should be appalled" by its statement "that would seem to justify the fight when it said the Bozeman Republican had tussled with a 'liberal journalist.' How would the campaign have known the reporter's political beliefs?"

Repeated phone calls to Gianforte's cellphone went unreturned. He said of the politician's account: "The only thing that is factually correct.is my name and place of employment".

Quist declined to comment on the incident.

Gianforte was charged with misdemeanor assault and is scheduled to appear in court next month. He faces a maximum $500 fine or six months in jail if convicted. The sheriff's department said in its statement that Jacobs' injuries did not meet the legal definition of felony assault.

Gootkin also addressed media reports that he had contributed to Gianforte's campaign, acknowledging he had donated $250, but, "This contribution has nothing to do with our investigation which is now complete".

The alleged scuffle led cable news outlets throughout the night on the eve of the election and also was the top trending topic on Twitter.

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