Gianforte to enter plea in assault case

Posted June 22, 2017

As part of the settlement, Jacobs said he would not object to Gianforte entering a plea of no contest, or nolo contendere, meaning Gianforte would concede to the charge without admitting guilt.

When Greg Gianforte bodily assaulted a Guardian reporter the night before he was elected to the House of Representatives, it was one more incident in an especially virulent run of active GOP hostility against the press-or, at least, the non-conservative press. On May 24, Gianforte reportedly attacked journalist Ben Jacobs and is accused of "body slamming" him at a campaign event, CNN reports.

The Republican will contribute $50,000 to the Committee to Protect Journalists as part of the settlement agreement. That statement, sent by Gianforte spokesman Shane Scanlon, said Jacobs grabbed Gianforte's wrist and pushed both men to the ground, and the statement made a point of calling Jacobs a "liberal journalist" with "aggressive behavior".

Jacobs tried to ask Gianforte about the Congressional Budget Office's analysis of the Republican health care bill as Gianforte was preparing for a television interview.

Lambert previously said additional, more serious criminal charges could be brought in the case.

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The political correspondent said Gianforte "body-slammed" him and broke his eyeglasses when the reporter asked a healthcare-related question at a campaign event in Bozeman.

Under Montana law, a conviction for misdemeanor assault carries a maximum sentence of six months in jail.

Lambert told the Associated Press that Gianforte will plead guilty when he appears in court for arraignment and sentencing on Monday.

The apology letter says, "you did not initiate any physical contact with me", but does not go into detail about the original effort to cover up what happened.

Gianforte defeated Democrat Rob Quist to fill a vacant House seat after Trump appointed Ryan Zinke as interior secretary.

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"It allows the defense to come in and say, 'OK, I'm willing to accept responsibility, but I don't want a legal admission on the record that I am legally guilty, '" Gross said.

Following the release of the letter to Jacobs by a Guardian spokeswoman, Jacobs said in a statement, "I have accepted Mr. Gianforte's apology and his willingness to take responsibility for his actions and statements".

Gianforte won the May 25 election with just over 50 percent of the vote.

Jacobs says he hopes the episode will reinforce respect for freedom of the press and encourage more civil discourse. Gianforte yells, "Get the hell out of here!"

"When you make a mistake, you have to own up to it", Gianforte said the next day during his victory speech. If Gianforte pleads guilty, West likely will announce the sentence at that time.

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