Greg Gianforte issued a formal apology to The Guardian's Ben Jacobs on Wednesday, writing in a letter that his "physical response to your legitimate question was unprofessional, unacceptable, and unlawful."
Gianforte is the Republican U.S. congressman-elect from Montana, and on the eve of the election, he body-slammed Jacobs after he asked him a question about the Republican health-care plan, according to Jacobs and witnesses. Gianforte's campaign then issued a statement accusing Jacobs of engaging in "aggressive behavior." During Gianforte's victory speech on election night, he apologized to Jacobs, but he went further in his letter, writing: "Notwithstanding anyone's statements to the contrary, you did not initiate any physical contact with me, and I had no right to assault you. I am sorry for what I did and the unwanted notoriety that has created for you. I take full responsibility."
He went on to say he understands the "critical role that journalists and the media play in our society," and he had "no right to respond the way I did to your legitimate question about health-care policy." Gianforte also pledged to make a $50,000 contribution to the Committee to Protect Journalists. Jacobs said Wednesday he accepted Gianforte's apology and his "willingness to take responsibility for his actions and statements. I hope the constructive resolution of this incident reinforces for all the importance of respecting the freedom of the press and the First Amendment and encourages more civil and thoughtful discourse in our country." On June 20, Gianforte is scheduled to appear in court to face a misdemeanor assault charge in connection with the altercation.