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GOP winner in Montana special election apologizes for alleged assault

Rep.-elect Greg Gianforte (R-Mont.) apologized to the reporter whom he allegedly assaulted the night before his victory in Montana's House special election, addressing the situation for the first time in public after news organizations declared him the winner.

"Last night, I made a mistake and I took an action that I cant take back — and I'm not proud of what happened," Gianforte said during his victory rally in Bozeman, Mont., shortly before 11 p.m. local time. 
 
"I should not have responded in the way that I did and for that I'm sorry. I should not have treated that reporter that way and for that I am sorry, Mr. Ben Jacobs," he said to the reporter from The Guardian. 
 
Gianforte went on to tell his supporters that his actions are not indicative of the person he is or the type of leader he will be as the state's new congressman. 
 
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The aside during his victory speech is a stark departure from his campaign's initial comments on the altercation, which led to a misdemeanor assault charge filed against him hours before the polls opened. 
 
His campaign initially claimed that the reporter “aggressively shoved a recorder in Greg’s face,” grabbing the candidate’s wrist and pulling them both to the ground.
 
But a Fox News reporter who witnessed the altercation said that Gianforte “grabbed Jacobs by the neck with both hands and slammed him to the ground,” adding that Jacobs did not “show any form of physical aggression toward Gianforte” before he grabbed the reporter’s neck.  
 
Gianforte specifically apologized to the Fox News team who had witnessed the altercation. 
 
Gianforte is scheduled to appear in county court sometime before June 7. The charge carries a maximum fine of $500, a prison term of no more than six months, or both. 
 
The last-minute chaos cast even more of a spotlight on the race, one of the few special elections of 2017.