READ: Greg Gianforte Statement on ‘Body Slam’ Claim

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Greg Gianforte. (Getty)

Montana Republican candidate Greg Gianforte’s campaign is firing back at claims he “body slammed” a reporter, claiming that the reporter grabbed Gianforte’s wrist first.

You can read the full Gianforte campaign response here:

The dramatic claim by reporter Ben Jacobs threatened to upend an already close race for the Montana House seat vacated by Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke. It’s a Republican seat in a state that went overwhelmingly for Donald Trump, but observers had said the race appeared tighter than expected. Country singer Rob Quist is running against Gianforte.

The Gianforte campaign statement alleged that Jacobs “entered the office without permission, aggressively shoved a recorder in Greg’s face and began asking badgering questions.”

Jacobs declined a request to lower his recorder, when asked, the statement alleges. “Greg then attempted to grab the phone that was pushed in his face. Jacobs grabbed Greg’s wrist and spun away from Greg, pushing them both to the ground,” says the campaign statement.

The statement blames “this aggressive behavior from a liberal journalist” for creating the scene at a campaign volunteer barbecue.

There’s audio of the exchange. You can listen to it here:

The audio captures a rustling sound that sounds like an altercation, and then a male voice saying after Jacobs asks about healthcare, “I’m sick and tired of you guys. The last (unintelligible) that came in here you did the same thing. Get the hell out of here! Get the hell out of here! The last guy did the same thing, you with the Guardian?”

“Yes, and you just broke my glasses,” says Jacobs.

“The last guy did the same da*n thing.”

“You just body slammed me and broke my glasses,” Jacobs says, saying he’s going to call the police.

“Get the hell out of here.”

The reporter has filed a complaint with police, and medics were called to the scene. Authorities so far are saying very little.

“The Gallatin County Sheriffs Office is currently investigating allegations of an assault involving Greg Gianforte. We will provide a press release with more information when appropriate. The investigation is ongoing,” the Sheriff’s Department said in a statement shortly after the incident on May 24.

Gianforte, 56, is a businessman, with a net worth estimated in the millions of dollars. He co-founder RightNow Technologies, and unsuccessfully ran for Montana governor.

Ben Jacobs: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know

Ben Jacobs, a Guardian reporter, claimed on Twitter that Republican Montana House candidate Greg Gianforte body slammed him and broke his glasses.

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