Rep.-elect Gianforte calls for civility in politics after reporter assault

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Greg Gianforte, the incoming Republican congressman from Montana who “body slammed” reporter Ben Jacobs, called for renewed civility in politics on Friday. 

These remarks come four days after Gianforte was convicted of assaulting the reporter who asked him a question about the American Health Care Act the day before his election.

“I believe that good things can come out of bad,” Gianforte said, calling for more civil discourse after the politically motivated shooting of Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.) and others at a congressional baseball practice on Wednesday.

“It’s important to make sure we reach out to all parties and hear their voice. I think the other parties have an obligation, as well, to be respectful and in that dialogue,” he said.

{mosads}Gianforte told The Associated Press that his reputation of being the congressman who beat up a reporter will follow him into the House after being sworn in by Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) on Wednesday. “I can’t erase it, but I did do everything in my power once the event was over to take responsibility.” 

Jacobs, a reporter for The Guardian, said that Gianforte “body slammed” him while attempting to ask a question, breaking his glasses. Audio recorded by Jacobs provided sounds of the altercation, in which Gianforte yelled, “Get the hell out of here!”

Gianforte pleaded guilty to the assault charges and was given a 180-day deferred jail sentence in addition to a $385 fine, 20 hours of anger management counseling and 40 hours of community service. Jacobs agreed not to sue the congressman in exchange for a written apology and a donation of $50,000 to the Committee to Protect Journalists.

“I have addressed the issue,” Gianforte told the AP. “I think I’ve been very clear, I’ve taken full responsibility. I’m not proud of what happened that evening, but I have accepted full responsibility and both Ben and I, and I think the people of Montana, want us to move on.” 

Gianforte won Montana’s sole House seat in a special election on May 25 after the appointment of sitting Rep. Ryan Zinke as secretary of the Interior Department.

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