By Doug Porter
In today’s episode of Stupid Things Republicans Do, Rep. Duncan Hunter gets first mention thanks to a quote reported by the Associated Press concerning the assault of Guardian reporter Ben Jacobs by Montana House of Representatives candidate Greg Gianforte.
San Diego-born Gianforte, has been charged with misdemeanor assault after losing his temper and “body slamming” the reporter when he asked for comment on the Congressional Budget Office scoring of the House Trumpcare bill.
The tech millionaire is running in a special election to replace Ryan Zinke, who resigned earlier this year to serve as Secretary of the Interior in the Trump administration. Although polling indicated Democratic candidate Rob Quist was showing surprising strength, Gianforte was widely expected to win, as Montana is a solidly Republican state.
Three of Montana’s largest newspapers, including the Billings Gazette, the largest in the state, the Missoulian and the Independent Record, all rescinded their endorsements of Gianforte in the wake of the incident.
Today (Thursday) is election day, but nearly a quarter million votes have already been cast by mail. Montana could end up with Congressman who gets to work on criminal justice reform from the inside.
San Diego Congressman Duncan Hunter wasn’t so sure:
Rep. Duncan Hunter said of MT reporter assault, “It’s not appropriate behavior. Unless the reporter deserved it.”
— Mary Clare Jalonick (@MCJalonick) May 25, 2017
This dovetails nicely with the statement released by the Gianforte campaign trying to justify the assault by blaming “aggressive behavior” from a liberal journalist.
“Tonight, as Greg (Gianforte) was giving a separate interview in a private office, The Guardian’s Ben Jacobs entered the office without permission, aggressively shoved a recorder in Greg’s face, and began asking badgering questions,” Scanlon said in a statement. “Jacobs was asked to leave. After asking Jacobs to lower the recorder, Jacobs declined. 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. It’s unfortunate that this aggressive behavior from a liberal journalist created this scene at our campaign volunteer BBQ.”
Audio of the incident, along with statements made by a Fox News crew setting up at the time, completely refutes this narrative.
Here’s a snip from Alicia Acuna’s eyewitness account:
Faith, Keith and I arrived early to set up for the interview in a room adjacent to another room where a volunteer BBQ was to take place. As the time for the interview neared, Gianforte came into the room. We exchanged pleasantries and made small talk about restaurants and Bozeman.
During that conversation, another man — who we now know is Ben Jacobs of The Guardian — walked into the room with a voice recorder, put it up to Gianforte’s face and began asking if he had a response to the newly released Congressional Budget Office report on the American Health Care Act. Gianforte told him he would get to him later. Jacobs persisted with his question. Gianforte told him to talk to his press guy, Shane Scanlon.
At that point, Gianforte grabbed Jacobs by the neck with both hands and slammed him into the ground behind him. Faith, Keith and I watched in disbelief as Gianforte then began punching the reporter. As Gianforte moved on top of Jacobs, he began yelling something to the effect of, “I’m sick and tired of this!”
Fox and Friends turn a blind eye: This morning Fox & Friends repeated Gianforte’s claim that “the men both fell,”neglecting the account of their own network’s reporter.
A Russia Connection: Jacobs authored an April 28 Guardian story based on Gianforte’s financial disclosure form indicating he owns nearly $150,000 in shares of VanEck Vectors Russia ETF. He also has $92,400 invested in the iShares MSCF Russia ET fund. Both of these funds have “significant holdings” in companies like Gazprom and Rosneft, two companies that were hit with sanctions after Russia invaded the Crimea.
This sort of behavior shouldn’t surprise anybody, given the recent history of hostility aimed at the Fourth Estate from the Trump administration and its supporters. Media Matters has documented over 100 incidentsof this sort since the inauguration.
Meanwhile, here’s a GOP response:
Ryan, other Republicans call on Gianforte to “apologize” for “mistake” https://t.co/glPtTFpXLn
— Washington Post (@washingtonpost) May 25, 2017
Second place in the Stupid Things sweepstakes goes to Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson, who yesterday told a SiriusXM Radio host “Poverty is a state of mind.”
From NBC News:
This isn’t the first time Carson has caught heat for controversial remarks as a Trump Cabinet member. In his first address as Housing and Urban Development Secretary he compared slaves to immigrants.
“There were other immigrants who came here in the bottom of slave ships,” he said. “They too had a dream that one day their sons, daughters, grandsons, granddaughters, great grandsons, great granddaughters might pursue prosperity and happiness in this land.”
He later apologized for the slavery statement.
Another Wednesday blockbuster came via the Washington Post, which revealed that a forged document (likely planted by the Russians) played a key role in then-FBI Director James B. Comey’s handling of the Hillary Clinton email investigation.
The Russian document cited a supposed email describing how then-Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch had privately assured someone in the Clinton campaign that the email investigation would not push too deeply into the matter. If true, the revelation of such an understanding would have undermined the integrity of the FBI’s investigation.
Current and former officials have said that Comey relied on the document in making his July decision to announce on his own, without Justice Department involvement, that the investigation was over. That public announcement — in which he criticized Clinton and made extensive comments about the evidence — set in motion a chain of other FBI moves that Democrats now say helped Trump win the presidential election.
But according to the FBI’s own assessment, the document was bad intelligence — and according to people familiar with its contents, possibly even a fake sent to confuse the bureau. The Americans mentioned in the Russian document insist they do not know each other, do not speak to each other and never had any conversations remotely like the ones described in the document. Investigators have long doubted its veracity, and by August the FBI had concluded it was unreliable.
Senator Kamala Harris says it’s time to go. Not to be outdone, CNN revealed that Attorney General Jeff Sessions failed to disclose meetings with Russian officials during a security clearance on the advice of his advisors and the FBI.
To obtain a security clearance, a federal official is not required to list the meetings if they were part of a foreign conference he or she attended while conducting government business. Sessions’ meetings, however, do not appear to be tied to foreign conferences.
The omission comes after problems that Trump adviser Jared Kushner and the President’s ex-national security adviser, Michael Flynn, have had on their own security forms.
Kushner prematurely submitted his SF-86 form without listing foreign contacts and had to notify the FBI the next day that he was willing to provide the information. Flynn is under investigation for not properly disclosing payments linked to Russia for his foreign trips.
“He’s lied under oath” Senator Kamala Harris wrote on Twitter, He’s misled on security clearance forms. It’s simple – he should not be the Attorney General.”
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