Montana GOP candidate cancels Fox interview following assault charges

Greg Gianforte, the GOP House candidate in Montana who was charged Thursday for misdemeanor assault after an incident with a reporter, has pulled out of a scheduled interview on Fox News. 

Gianforte had been slated to appear on "America’s News Headquarters" with Sandra Smith at 2 p.m. but a representative for the candidate said he would not be doing any national interviews following Wednesday’s incident.

Gianforte's altercation with a reporter occurred when a Fox News team was scheduled to interview Gianforte at his campaign headquarters. The team said Ben Jacobs, a reporter from The Guardian, pressed Gianforte about the newly released Congressional Budget Office report on the American Health Care Act.

Gianforte told Jacobs to talk to his press officer. At some point, Gianforte grabbed Jacobs by the neck with both hands and slammed him into the ground, according to witnesses.

Gianforte, a Republican and former software executive, had the slight edge over his Democratic challenger Rob Quist, a country music performer, to fill the vacant House seat leading up to Thursday’s election. The majority of voters were expected to have already cast their ballots by early voting so it is unclear how much Wednesday’s events will have on election results.

If he’s found guilty, Gianforte faces a $500 fine and up to 6 months in jail.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee announced that it would launch as many Facebook ads as possible about the incident, targeting Montana Democratic voters who might not otherwise vote Thursday. The committee also said Gianforte must quit the race and the Republican Party should publicly denounce him.

Three of Monatana’s biggest newspapers – The Missoulian, the Billings Gazette and the Independent Record - pulled their endorsement from Gianforte after an audio recording of the encounter went viral.

The editorial board at the Billings Gazette wrote, "We previously supported Gianforte because he said he was ready to listen, to compromise, to take the tough questions. Everything he said was obliterated by his surprising actions that were recorded and witnessed Wednesday."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.