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Reporter assaulted by Mont. congressman sends cease-and-desist letter

Reporter assaulted by Mont. congressman sends cease-and-desist letter
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The Guardian reporter Ben Jacobs's attorneys have sent a cease and desist letter to Rep. Greg GianforteGregory Richard GianfortePutting the president's pharmacy vaccine plan into action The Hill's Morning Report - Biden, McConnell agree on vaccines, clash over infrastructure Montana governor tests positive for COVID-19 MORE (R-Mont.) and members of his campaign team, demanding that they stop making "false and defamatory statements" about the incident.

"On behalf of this firm's client Benjamin Jacobs, I write to demand that Rep. Gianforte, his spokesman, Mr. Hall, and all other persons working for or affiliated with Rep. Gianforte or his campaign immediately cease and desist from making any further false and defamatory statements about Mr. Jacobs," the letter said, according to a CNN reporter.

Earlier this year, Gianforte knocked Jacobs to the ground after Jacobs asked the then-candidate a question about health care.

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The altercation broke out a day before Montana's special House election to fill the seat vacated by Interior Secretary Ryan ZinkeRyan Keith ZinkeMissouri Senate candidate Eric Greitens tangles with Hugh Hewitt in testy interview Overnight Energy: Interior finalizes plan to open 80 percent of Alaska petroleum reserve to drilling | Justice Department lawyers acknowledge presidential transition in court filing | Trump admin pushes for permits for men who inspired Bundy standoff Trump administration pushes for grazing permits for men who inspired Bundy standoff MORE. Gianforte won the race despite the criminal charges.

He eventually pleaded guilty to misdemeanor assault and received a sentence of community service, anger management classes and a $385 fine.

Gianforte reportedly told police that Jacobs made physical contact with him first. The account contradicted eyewitness accounts.

In a letter of apology sent to Jacobs in June, Gianforte acknowledged the reporter didn't initiate contact with him.

The cease and desist letter says that a statement made by Gianforte's spokesman, Travis Hall, in which he said "[n]o one was misled, anyone who says otherwise is mistaken," is "false and defamatory."

"It denotes that the accurate accounts of Mr. Jacobs and numerous eyewitnesses about Rep. Gianforte's unprovoked May 24, 2017 assault were somehow 'mistaken," the letter said.

The letter says Hall's statement directly contradicts Gianforte's June letter to Jacobs, in which Gianforte said: "[n]otwithstanding anyone's statements to the contrary, [Mr. Jacobs] did not initiate any physical contact with me."

"Thus, as the June 7 letter concedes, Rep. Gianforte and his campaign did mislead law enforcement and the public — repeatedly — about Mr. Jacobs actions in the moments before Rep. Gianforte assaulted him," the letter says.

The letter calls it "unacceptable" for Gianforte or members of his campaign to make "false or defamatory statements" about the assault.

"Please advise Rep. Gianforte, Mr. Hall, and the Gianforte campaign of the need to cease and desist from making defamatory statements, made after the date of the pertinent General Release, about him or the May 24 assault."