Greg Gianforte, the Montana Republican charged with assaulting journalist Ben Jacobs the day before he was elected to Congress, issued an apology for his “unprofessional, unacceptable and unlawful” and donated $50,000 to the Committee to Protect Journalists as part of a civil suit, the Guardian reports.
In an audio recording of the encounter between Jacobs and Gianforte—which resulted in criminal charges against the GOP Representative—Gianforte can be heard yelling at the reporter before allegedly slamming him to the ground and breaking his glasses. In a statement after the altercation, a spokesperson for Gianforte maintained he did nothing wrong and argued he was provoked by Jacobs.
In his apology, Gianforte refuted his own spokesperson.
“Notwithstanding anyone’s statements to the contrary, you did not initiate any physical contact withe me, and I had no right to assault you,” Gianforte wrote, adding he takes “full responsibility” for his actions.
“I understand the critical role that journalists and the media play in our society,” the Republican Congressman added. “Protections afforded to the press through the Constitution are fundamental to who we are as a nation and the way government is held accountable to the people.”
Gianforte still faces criminal charges, though The Billings Gazette reported Wednesday the Congressman is likely working out a plea deal.
In the apology, Gianforte recognized that Jacobs was doing his job. “I made a mistake and humbly ask for your forgiveness,” Gianforte wrote.
For his part, Jacobs said he accepts Gianforte’s apology.
Read the full letter below, via the Washington Post’s Ed O’Keefe:
— Ed O’Keefe (@edatpost) June 8, 2017