Montana Republican elected to Congress to plead guilty to assaulting reporter

Gianforte will plead guilty to assault charge - KRTV News in Great Falls, Montana

Tech millionaire Greg Gianforte, who won a special election to represent Montana in the US House of Representatives, is expected to plead guilty to assaulting a journalist at a campaign event.

Jacobs, a reporter with the British publication 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.

"My physical response to your legitimate question was unprofessional, unacceptable, and unlawful", Gianforte wrote. As both a candidate for Office and a public official, I should be held to a high standard in my interactions with the press and the public.

Earlier this week, Jacobs and Gianforte reached a settlement in which Jacobs agreed not to sue Gianforte, while the congressman-elect agreed to donate $50,000 to the Committee to Protect Journalists.

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".

The Republican technology entrepreneur will enter his plea in court on Monday, when he is scheduled to be arraigned and sentenced on the misdemeanor charge, Gallatin County Attorney Marty Lambert told The Associated Press. Documents filed Tuesday by former U.S. Attorney William Mercer and Bozeman attorney Todd Whipple says they are in settlement talks with prosecutors.

That night, Gianforte was charged with assault.

Gianforte is expected to be sworn in next month after defeating Democrat Rob Quist in the special congressional election to serve the remainder of Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke's term.

"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.

The Guardian confirmed Friday that Jacobs will be in Bozeman for Gianforte's appearance in court.

"I understand the critical role that journalists and the media play in our society", Gianforte wrote. "I acknowledge that the media have an obligation to seek information".

Misdemeanor assault convictions in Montana carry a maximum penalty of six months in prison and a $500 fine. I also know that civility in our public discourse is central to a productive dialogue on issues. Subsequent audio and witness statements made it clear that the initial campaign statement was false, but Gianforte had never repudiated it until now - presumably for legal reasons, although it's not really clear how silence helped matters.

In Wednesday's letter, Gianforte stated: "I had no right to respond the way did to your legitimate question about healthcare policy".

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