The Slatest

Gianforte Pleads Guilty to Assault, Doesn’t Say Why He Lied in Initial Statement

Republican Greg Gianforte.

Photo by Janie Osborne/Getty Images

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 currently making its way through Congress.

The soon-to-be Congressman—who was elected to the House of Representatives in a Montana special election the day after the attack—was sentenced to 40 hours of community service and 20 hours of anger management. The maximum penalty was a $500 fine and up to 6 months in jail. The prosecutor asked for a six-month deferred sentence, a $500 fine, and $85 in fees. Gianforte reportedly paid Jacobs $4,464.97 in restitution and the judge ordered him to pay $300 in fines and $85 in court fees.

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The judge initially gave Gianforte four days in jail to be completed instead with two days in a work release program, but removed that jailtime when it was clarified that Gianforte’s crime did not make him eligible for the work release.

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The judge in the case ordered Gianforte be booked and then immediately released from jail, but Gianforte’s attorney reportedly planned to file a motion so that the future Congressman would not have to do that.

Whitney Bermes of the Bozeman Chronicle reported that Gianforte admitted to grabbing Jacobs’ wrist during the court appearance.

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After initially claiming that Jacobs had initiated the incident and “grabbed Greg’s wrist, and spun away from Greg, pushing them both to the ground,” Gianforte apologized when multiple witnesses corroborated Jacobs’ version of events.

The prosecutor in the case raised this point during sentencing:

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Following the hearing, Gianforte issued a statement and spoke to reporters for two minutes.

“When you make a mistake, you’ve got to take full responsibility,” he said. “That’s what I’ve done today and I look forward to putting this behind me. I’ve apologized to Mr. Ben Jacobs, he has accepted my apology. I am grateful for that. Now I look forward to going to work in Washington.”

As Bermes noted, Gianforte did not take a single question on why his initial statement—in the heat of the final 24 hours of a Congressional campaign—was outright false.

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