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Gianforte Apologizes, Donates $50,000, Asks For Monday Court Date

Greg Gianforte at a campaign event in Kalispell earlier this year
Eric Whitney
Greg Gianforte at a campaign event in Kalispell earlier this year

Montana’s U.S. Representative-elect Greg Gianforte says in an apology letter that he "had no right to assault" a reporter.

Gianforte was charged with misdemeanor assault the night before polls opened in the special election for Montana’s U.S. House seat.

That night he blamed Guardian Reporter Ben Jacobs for initiating a physical altercation, which Jacobs caught on an audio recorder. Published eyewitness accounts contradicted Gianforte's statement. 

Gianforte’s letter to Jacobs yesterday is part of a settlement with Jacobs in which the reporter agrees not to object to Gianforte entering a plea of "no contest" to a misdemeanor assault charge.

The Bozeman Daily Chronicle is reporting that Gianforte has requested to appear in court on the charge Monday, June 12 at 10 AM. 

The Republican will contribute $50,000 to the Committee to Protect Journalists as part of the settlement agreement.

Jacobs says he hopes the episode will reinforce respect for freedom of the press and encourage more civil discourse.

Jacobs previously said he was "body slammed" by Gianforte on the day before the May 25 special congressional election in Montana when the reporter tried to ask him a question.

Yesterday’s apology basically staves off a civil suit. 

Bozeman Daily Chronicle court reporter Whitney Bermes says Justice of the Peace Rick West on Wednesday granted Gianforte's request to extend his deadline to appear in court beyond the initial June 7 date set by the court. 

Montana’s special election results won’t get certified until June 17.

Gianforte is expected to be sworn into office sometime after the certification.

We'll have analysis of Gianforte's legal situation and strategy later tonight during All Things Considered, and posted at MTPR.org. 

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