House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) on Thursday condemned Montana Republican candidate Greg Gianforte’s alleged assault of a reporter, but said he will accept Gianforte into the Republican conference if he wins the election.
“There’s never a call for physical altercations,” Ryan said at his weekly press conference. “There is no time where a physical altercation should occur with the press or just between human beings. So that is wrong and it should not have happened.”
Ben Jacobs, a reporter for the Guardian, on Wednesday night said that Gianforte “body-slammed” him after he asked Gianforte a question. The Guardian posted audio of the alleged assault, in which a crashing sound can be heard and a man who is apparently Gianforte tells Jacobs he is “sick and tired of you guys.”
“You just body slammed me and broke my glasses,” Jacobs replied.
“Get the hell out of here,” the man responded.
Gianforte’s campaign spokesman contradicted Jacobs’ account, claiming that the reporter “shoved a recorder” in Gianforte’s face and pulled both of them to the ground. The audio appears to contradict this version of events.
Ryan on Thursday said that “the gentleman” — referring to Gianforte, who was charged with misdemeanor assault — “should apologize.”
“I know he has his own version, and I’m sure he’s going to have more to say, but there’s no call for this, no matter what, under any circumstance,” he said.
“If he wins, will you seat him?” a reporter asked.
“If he wins, he has been chosen by the people of Montana who their congressman is going to be,” Ryan said. “I’m going to let the people of Montana decide who they want as their representative. That’s not our choice.”