GOP rep blames ‘the left’ for ‘tense, confrontational approach’

Rep. Trent FranksHarold (Trent) Trent FranksArizona New Members 2019 Cook shifts 8 House races toward Dems Freedom Caucus members see openings in leadership MORE (R-Ariz.) on Thursday blamed liberals for creating a "tense, confrontational" culture around politics one day after GOP House special election candidate Greg Gianforte allegedly slammed a reporter to the floor.

"The left has precipitated this tense, confrontational approach throughout the country in recent months," Franks told MSNBC.

"I reject any kind of thing where we use physical violence in a situation like that, it should not have happened, and the law will have to be the ultimate arbiter."

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Montana law enforcement officials charged Gianforte with misdemeanor assault following the alleged physical altercation with Guardian reporter Ben Jacobs on Wednesday — one day before Montana's special election.

Gianforte allegedly slammed Jacobs to the floor at the candidate's campaign headquarters in Bozeman as he posed questions about the Republicans' ObamaCare repeal plans — a charge Gianforte denies.

After a brief investigation, Gallatin County Sheriff Brian Gootkin issued a statement Wednesday night saying Gianforte had been cited for misdemeanor assault.

“Following multiple interviews and an investigation by the Gallatin County Sheriff’s Office it was determined there was probable cause to issue a citation to Greg Gianforte for misdemeanor assault,” the statement reads. “The nature of the injuries did not meet the statutory elements of felony assault.”

Gianforte is facing Democrat Rob Quist in Thursday's special election to replace Ryan Zinke, who left the House to become President Trump's Interior secretary. Montana has long been a safe GOP state, but recent polling has shown Quist within striking distance.