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Montana lawmaker to plead guilty to assault charge

18 June 2017

Republican Greg Gianforte pled guilty on Monday to misdemeanor assault stemming from an incident in which he attacked a reporter who asked him a question about the Republican health care bill now making its way through Congress.

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. Gianforte then told Jacobs to "get the hell out of here", according to an audio recording by Jacobs.

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. Last week, however, Gianforte issued a full and unreserved apology to Jacobs and donated $50,000 to the Committee to Protect Journalists, a nonprofit group that promotes press freedom around the world. That statement, sent by Gianforte spokesman Shane Scanlon, said Jacobs grabbed Gianforte's wrist and pushed both men to the ground, and made a point of calling Jacobs a "liberal journalist" with "aggressive behavior".

Gianforte is expected to be sworn in as Montana's lone representative in the U.S. House later this month.

"I made a mistake and humbly ask for your forgiveness", Gianforte wrote. He was given a deferred six-month jail sentence. "But has to do 40 hours of community service, 20 hours anger management". Gianforte won one day after being charged for assuulting a reporter.

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Montana' Republican Congressman Greg Gianforte pleaded guilty to misdemeanor assault and was sentenced to community service and anger management.

CATES-CARNEY: After Gianforte entered his guilty plea, Jacobs was given the opportunity to make a statement.

Gianforte initially sought to plead no contest, instead of guilty, but the prosecutor said he insisted on a guilty plea.

BEN JACOBS: There will always be fundamental political disagreements in our society.

Following the hearing, Gianforte gave a brief statement to the press. I look forward to going to work in Washington.

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Gianforte was elected to serve the remainder of the term of Ryan Zinke, named by President Trump to serve as Interior secretary.

Despite those repeated apologies, Gianforte has yet to fully address why his campaign's initial account of the confrontation cast blame on Jacobs.

With this case gaining national attention and social media buzz, ABC FOX Montana went out in Bozeman to see how people feel about judge Rick West's decision for Greg Gianforte. Montanans said we need to drain the swamp ... and we have a lot of work to do.

Jordan Gross, a professor at the law school at the University of Montana, said there are a few reasons someone might admit to a crime publicly but not in court.

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Montana lawmaker to plead guilty to assault charge