Guardian reporter threatens to exit settlement with GOP lawmaker who assaulted him


A lawyer representing Guardian reporter Ben Jacobs said this week that his client may leave a settlement agreement with Rep. Greg Gianforte (R-Mont.) if the lawmaker continues to misrepresent his assault of the journalist.

Attorney Geoffrey H. Genth sent a letter to Gianforte after the GOP lawmaker told the Missoulian editorial board last week that he initially told the truth to the police regarding the 2017 incident. Gianforte also told the newspaper that he was bound by a settlement agreement to not discuss the incident.

{mosads}A police report shows Gianforte originally said Jacobs initiated contact. Jacobs’s lawyer also contends that there was no confidentiality agreement.

“Rep. Gianforte’s continued lying this month has greatly aggravated the severe harm that Rep. Gianforte previously caused to Ben and Ben’s reputation,” the letter states, according to a copy obtained by Politico. “The continued lying is unacceptable and actionable. Please advise your client that he and his spokespersons need to stop — immediately and forever — telling lies about the assault, about their own prior lies, about your client’s ‘settlement agreement’ with Ben, or about any other aspect of this matter.

“Ben reserves all rights, including the right to seek rescission of the General Release on the ground of Rep. Gianforte’s fraudulent inducement,” Genth added.

In June 2017, Gianforte issued a full apology and agreed to donate $50,000 to the Committee to Protect Journalists after he admitted to body-slamming Jacobs after the journalist asked him a question about a Republican health-care policy. Gianforte also pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of assault.

Jacobs accepted Gianforte’s apology at the time, saying he hoped the “constructive resolution of this incident reinforces for all the importance of respecting the freedom of the press and the first amendment.”

President Trump drew attention to the incident this month when he praised the Montana lawmaker at a campaign rally. The president said Gianforte was a “tough cookie” and that his assault of the journalist likely helped him with Montana voters.

Gianforte’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Hill.

Tags Donald Trump Greg Gianforte Montana

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