GOP Rep.-elect Greg Gianforte will plead guilty to assaulting a reporter the day before being elected Montana’s only congressman, a prosecutor said Friday.
Gianforte plans to enter his plea Monday in court, where he is scheduled to be arraigned and sentenced, Gallatin County Attorney Marty Lambert told The Associated Press. Misdemeanor assault carries a maximum penalty of a $500 fine or a six month jail sentence.
Gianforte allegedly threw Guardian reporter Ben Jacobs to the ground in May and began punching him after Jacobs asked him for a response to the recently released CBO report on the American Health Care Act (AHCA).
Jacobs later tweeted that he had been “body slammed” by the congressman and his glasses had been broken, his account was corroborated by a Fox News crew that was standing nearby.
The incident was captured by an audio recording later published by the Guardian.
Greg Gianforte just body slammed me and broke my glasses
— Ben Jacobs (@Bencjacobs) May 24, 2017
Gianforte requested the hearing after reaching a civil settlement this week, during which Jacobs consented to Gianforte pleading no contest, meaning he would concede to the charge without technically admitting guilt.
Lambert told the AP Gianforte would forego the no contest charge opting instead to plead guilty.
“He is not going to be entering a nolo contendere plea,” Lambert said. “He’s going to be pleading guilty.”
Lambert will recommend a sentence to Justice of the Peace Rick West at Monday’s hearing but declined to specify as to the nature of his recommendation.
As part of the civil settlement, Jacobs signed a document agreeing not to sue Gianforte and the congressman agreed to donate $50,000 to the Committee to Protect Journalists.
Gianforte will be sworn in next month after defeating Democrat Rob Quist in the special election to replace Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, who was tapped by President Donald Trump for the cabinet position last November.
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