Reporter says Montana candidate Greg Gianforte’s account of alleged assault is false

Last Updated May 25, 2017 12:32 PM EDT

BOZEMAN, Mont. — The Guardian reporter who authorities say was assaulted by a Montana Republican candidate for a U.S. House seat says he never touched the politician before he was thrown to the ground. 

Ben Jacobs told ABC’s “Good Morning America” that he was doing his job and asking a question of candidate Greg Gianforte as part of covering Thursday’s special election.

Gianforte was charged with misdemeanor assault late Wednesday. He’s accused of grabbing Jacobs by the throat and throwing him to the ground in his campaign office earlier Wednesday night.

“I approached the congressman. I asked him about the CBO score and he shortly thereafter sort of, you know, repeated the question,” Jacobs said, referring to the Congressional Budget Office’s assessment of the effects of the Republican health care bill passed by the House. “He grabbed my recorder, and next thing I knew I had gone from being vertical to being horizontal.”

Gianforte would face a maximum $500 fine or 6 months in jail if convicted. A statement by Gallatin County Sheriff Brian Gootkin added that Jacobs’ injuries did not meet the legal definition of felony assault. The sheriff’s office said Gianforte has until June 7 to appear in court on the charge.

Hours after the incident, Gianforte’s campaign blamed Jacobs, saying the reporter was being aggressive and grabbed Gianforte. In a statement, spokesman Shane Scanlon said Gianforte asked Jacobs to lower his recorder, an exchange that does not appear in Jacobs’ audio recording of the encounter. Scanlon also dubbed Jacobs a “liberal reporter” who “created this scene.”

“The only thing in the Gianforte statement that is factually correct is my name and place of employment,” Jacobs said of Gianforte’s account on “Good Morning America” Thursday. 

An account by a Fox News reporter who was in the room and witnessed the encounter corroborates Jacobs’…

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