In newly released documents, Greg Gianforte, then the Republican candidate in Montana's special congressional election, told police that a reporter from the Guardian had grabbed his wrist during a physical altercation at his campaign headquarters in May.
His statements appear to contradict the apology he later issued, where he said the reporter Ben Jacobs "did not initiate any physical contact with me, and I had no right to assault you," raising questions about whether the now Congressman was truthful with authorities.
Gianforte won Montana's lone U.S. House seat 24 hours after the assault and in June, he pleaded guilty to charges that he assaulted Jacobs and was sentenced to 40 hours of community service, 20 hours of anger management classes and a $385 fine in court costs, according to the Associated Press.
The documents from Gallatin County law enforcement, made public for the first time Friday, provides more details about the incident at the politician's campaign headquarters on May 24, which was witnessed by other journalists, captured on audio and made national headlines.
Gianforte had been preparing for an interview with Fox News when Jacobs came into the room and, according to an audio recording of the incident published by the Guardian, asked Gianforte to responds to the Congressional Budget Office score of the Affordable Care Act.
Sounds of the ensuing physical altercation can be heard in the audio, where Jacobs also says that his glasses were broken.
"I'm sick and tired of you guys!" Gianforte says. "The last guy that came in here did the same thing. Get the hell out of here! Get the hell out of here! The last guy did the same thing. Are you with the Guardian?"
Jacobs soon tweeted: "Greg Gianforte just body slammed me and broke my glasses."
Gianforte's campaign initially denied Jacobs claim, and instead, placed the blame on Jacobs and said he had been the aggressor. The newly released documents shows that Gianforte also initially blamed Jacobs in the assault.
The police report details Gianforte's version of events, where he said Jacobs "stuck a microphone in my face" and "obnoxious questions."
Gianforte told police he asked Jacobs to leave, but he "stuck the microphone in my face again."
"I probably shouldn't do it but I reached out for his phone . . . he grabbed my wrist, he spun, and we ended up on the floor. .. so he pulled me down on top of him," the report quotes Gianforte saying.
Gianforte, according to the report, made the statement: "when he grabbed my arm . . . kind of. . . grabbed my wrist and pulled me into him . . . we spun, hit the table . . . "
The "liberal media … is trying to make a story," Gianforte told police, according to the report.
Soon after the incident, the Gianforte campaign released a statement that mirrored what we now know Gianforte had told police:
"Greg then attempted to grab the phone that was pushed in his face. Jacobs grabbed Greg's wrist, and spun away from Greg, pushing them both to the ground," the statement reads. "It's unfortunate that this aggressive behavior from a liberal journalist created this scene at our campaign volunteer BBQ."
In Gianforte's later apology to Jacobs, Gianforte took "full responsibility" for the incident, saying "you did not initiate any physical contact with me, and I had no right to assault you."
Calls to the Gallatin County Sheriff's Office for comment about Gianforte's initial statements to police were referred to the County Attorney's office and a representative could not be immediately reached. Travis Hall, a spokesperson for Gianforte, did not immediately respond to a request to comment.