Gianforte Assault Case Documents


On May 24, 2017, the eve of the election for Montana's lone U.S. Representative seat, Greg Gianforte flew back into Bozeman from his latest campaign stop in Missoula. He was driven to his campaign headquarters, where a pre-arranged interiew with a Colorado Fox News team awaited him.

Another journalist, Ben Jacobs from the Guardian, had been traveling to Gianforte's various campaign stops, attempting to get an interview. Instead of an interview or at least an answer to his CBO question, Ben Jacobs was assaulted by Greg Gianforte. When the police interviewed Gianforte, he lied about the assault, blaming Jacobs (audio below). Gianforte spokesman, Shane Scanlon, then issued a press release stating, "Tonight, as Greg 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. 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."

The Colorado Fox News team then verified Jacobs account, that he did not provoke Gianforte, was not aggressive. After investigative interviews, Gianforte was given a citation for misdemeanor assault.

In an apology letter dated June 7th, from Greg Gianforte to Ben Jacobs, Gianforte makes reference to his campaign’s false statement. “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 this has created for you. I take full responsibility. I understand the critical role that journalists and the media play in our society. Protections afforded to the press through the Constitution are fundamental to who we are as a nation and the way government is accountable to the people ... I had no right to respond the way I did to your legitimate question about healthcare policy. You were doing your job.”

On June 12, 2017, Greg Gianforte pled guilty to assulting Guardian reporter Ben Jacobs, was sentenced to community service, a $385 fine and 20 hours of sessions for anger management. During the trial, Jacobs stated, "I just hope this court’s decision can send a strong message about the necessity of civil discourse in our country, the important role of the free press and the need to help heal our political system."

Some articles written tried to make it sound like there was simply an issue between Gianforte and the Guardian, due to a previous Guardian reporter's video on Gianforte, where Gianforte lied again, making himself look bad. Some articles tried to portray Jacob's as aggressive, deserving of the assault, strategically writing and wording to shape the public's perception about this one event - to make people think it was just this one event.

After several Montana papers requested the Gianforte Criminal Confidential Justice Information (CCJI) assault case files; and after reading some articles written up, based on those CCJI files late Fall 2017, I wanted the files so the Public and I could see for ourselves, to see if it was damage control or a certain spin put on it.

Gianforte Assault Confidential Criminal Justice Information Files & Additional Audio
(Audio and PDF files have been redacted to remove any phone, email, address or birthdate information to avoid potential harassment or identitity theft.)

Gianforte Assault of Ben Jacobs audio compilation (28 min) (due to number of hits, some are having difficulty with the streaming, so I have also uploaded it to my podcast channel which can handle the traffic better, link below)

Gianforte Assault of Ben Jacobs audio compilation (28 min) podcast source with better streaming

- knowing that most people will not listen to all the files below, I have compiled key statements from each to help present the facts of the assault. I begin with the lies and bias: Gianforte's Sheriff interview, Gianforte's Press Release, statements from staffers Seekins-Crowe and Elle, volunteers Howard-Wolf and Marshall.

Next I present the fact and truth: Missoulian article on Hamilton campaign stop, the Paul Lewis Guardian interview that upset Gianforte, the assault audio from Ben Jacobs, the Fox News team statements: Acuna, Mangan and Railey, closing with a statement from Gianforte's apology to Ben Jacob's letter and Jacob's statement from the trial.

Greg Gianforte mug shot

Greg Gianforte Arrest Report

Greg Gianforte Assault Case Summary

Det. Esper Report

Det. Boxmeyer Report

Det. Mayland Report

Ben Jacobs Gianforte Assault Audio File - Jacobs first called the police, then immediately uploaded audio to The Guardian.

On the Scene Interviews by Gallatin County Sheriff's Department Sgt. Scott Secor - includes Gianforte interview (he declined another interview). This audio is edited to reduce some of the wind distortion, saved to FLAC for higher definition. GIANFORTE segment (in his car) begins at 6:35. He states, "the liberal media trying to make a story", "national media trying to create a story".

Ben Jacobs Interview - Guardian reporter, Washington D.C.

Update: Oct. 25, 2018 letter from Ben Jacobs attorney to Gianforte's attorney demanding Gianforte stop lying about assault.

Victim head
Victim full
Broken glasses
Press pass, notice this is a daily press pass for the US Senate & House of Representatives
Cell phone screen shot of calls, showing call to 911 before Guardian Editor.

Alicia Acuna Interview, eye witness- Fox News Reporter, Denver, Gianforte grabbed him by both sides of his neck, "slammed him on the ground, and jumped on top of him ... started punching him, saying he was sick and tired of this", when the reporter asked for our names, "we didn't saying anything, we were in shock", punching him 2 or 3 times, "I've covered a lot of campaigns and been around a lot of aggressive reporters, this guy didn't strike me as being physically aggressive, he didn't touch him", "Ginaforte did not seem like he was defending himself, that's for dang sure, this was so out of nowhere."

Faith Mangan, eye witness- Fox News Field Producer, Denver, In reference to Ben Jacobs questioning Gianforte, "I actually for some reason just thought he was a campaign worker, or an over zealous volunteer... I didn't realize that he was another member of the media", "I saw movement and they went down on the ground, and Greg the candidate was on top of, this man that has since been identified as a reporter and I saw movement of his arms that led me to believe punching the guy", "the three of us, myself, Alicia and Keith were just stunned, staring", "I've done a lot of work following politics and running around by myself with my own equipment following candidates, I've been an embed, I've covered at least two presidential elections now, and I've never see anything so shocking like this, you know, to just not care for the questions and take someone down like that", "What I took away from it was that Greg took this guy down, it's stunning to me because I do similar work, you know, this is just mindblowing."

Keith Railey, eye witness- Fox News photographer Los Angeles based, "It happened pretty quick, Gianforte grabbed him around the neck and body slammed him down to the ground. Some punches were being thrown, I couldn't see where they were landing because I had a table between where the altercation was taking place", in relation to how many punches were thrown, "approximately 2 punches were thrown, I'm not sure. At that point I started to go towards, I wanted to get around the table, but I was blocked, and then they released from each other and stood up", "Gianforte was on top and the reporter on the bottom and he was like swinging pretty fast", "How many times do you think he swung? Like twice, maybe 3 times, but I'm not sure", "I've done this for 23-30 years, a lot, I've never seen anything like this, its still stunning, I've seen violence before, everything was mellow and it went to ten in a blink of an eye", "it was very onesided", "Who would be the aggressor? Gianforte."

Kerri Lin Seekins-Crowe, partial witness (saw them on the ground and afterward) - Gianforte Scheduler, on the drive from the airport to the campaign office they were discussing "having multiple problems with the Guardian and Buzzfeed", they were "very duplicitous and aggressive", "they have not been honest", "I looked, because there were some reporters in the room and I was very worried at the time that they had seen the whole thing", "having heard in a conversation how aggressive this guy is, I was thinking at that time that the reporter had gone after Greg, because of our conversation in the car", in relation to investigation, "plus there were some people there that I, when they asked there were some people around, it would not have been favorable for them to get anymore information, so I didn't say anything",

Joshua Elle, partial witness (saw them on the ground and afterward) - Gianforte driver, stated Jacobs had not "gotten in Greg's face" at the Helena event, prior to Bozeman. Concerning the assault, standing just outside the door to the room, "I heard a sound, looked back, then I saw movement and bodies on the ground", "in the car, yeah, that's where they talked about the Guardiand and 3 times previously the reporter had just gotten in Greg's face, so like, we don't want to give him any time, they're jerks, they're not being good about this, unprofessional, all this stuff", "I heard a commotion and then I turned around, saw the bodies moving on the floor,yelling and like striking out", "So it looked like he was going for the head and then after seeing the guy afterwards, like he had two big marks on the side of his face, kind of assuming that is where he connected", "It's kind of like the reporter going and getting in his face, clearly must have triggered", "I assume he was getting right in his face, but maybe I'm biased in that regard", "I think he (Jacobs) was probably revelling in the moment that he just broke a huge story", "he probably called his newspaper before he called you guys", "I think it would only be my biased view of the reporters premeditation for causing a ruckus, getting in his face."


*Holly Howard-Wolf and Karen Marshall accused Alexis Levinson (Buzzfeed journalist) of recording Holly illegally. No photographic, audio or video evidence corroborated their account. Someone saw Jacobs and Levinson talking together. It appears it was guilt by association and possible media bias.

Alexis Levinson - Buzzfeed reporter, Washington D.C.

Holly Howard-Wolf - Gianforte campaign volunteer, "She was getting angry, provoking me, getting right up to my face", "you are recording me, I just watched you", "this gal was obviously trying to cause problems", "evidently she had something to do with the Guardian reporter", "I just thought...I have no idea what she was trying to achieve, I've been around that kind of thing, there are people who purposely try to provoke you, and that's absolutely what she was doing", "I bet you 10 to 1 that guy must have done something, I'm sure he probably did."

Karen Marshall - Gianforte campaign volunteer, "They don't belong here, were on the 'other side' ", "they sort of looked hippyish", "Clearly a setup, this kid coming at Greg"


What's at stake?

Honesty, respect for the Constitutional Rights of Free Press,
open, public government from our Congressional Representative.

Don't be deceived, Gianforte's assault wasn't just about Guardian journalist Ben Jacobs. It is a bigger issue with controlling the public and the media.

  • Gianforte's April 27th statement about the press a month before the Special Election,
  • The fact he and his staff were discussing his angst with journalists on the drive to the campaign office, just before he assaulted Jacobs,
  • The fact that Jacobs did nothing provoking to justify "self defense",
  • Gianforte's lies right after the assault to the Sheriffs, blaming Jacob's,
  • Gianforte's immediate campaign Press Release again lies, stating, "aggressive behavior from a liberal journalist created this scene",
  • Gianforte's camapaign volunteers went after another Washington D.C journalist with Jacobs, as well as staff comments about the media as "duplicitious",
  • Gianforte's avoidance of public town hall meetings, uncontrolled public/press situations where he cannot control public, journalists, audio or video.

Much gratitude to Attorney Kim Wilson, of Morrison, Sherwood, Wilson & Deola, PLLP, who recently took on my (Kathryn QannaYahu) drawn out Gallatin County CCJI request case, filing a Motion Allowing Dissemination of Information, that had previously been allowed for dissemination.
I just received Order Allowing Dissemination 10/23/2018

Kathryn QannaYahu,, 406-579-7748, Helena, MT

Below are 2 Timelines: The Free Press Timeline and my frustrating CCJI Files Timeline

Free Press Timeline

April 27, 2017 Missoulian Editorial: Gianforte, we're not the enemy, "Attacking the news media is a tactic straight out of the Donald Trump playbook, and Greg Gianforte, who appears to be adhering to the president’s campaign model as closely as possible, capitalized on an opportunity last week to paint journalists as the enemy, too.

This week, in an interview with the Billings Gazette editorial board, he offered an apology for his comments about the press and said he fully supports the First Amendment. He also said last week’s comments were just a joke..."

The Missoulian continued relating a recent event in Hamilton with the candidates hosted by the Advancing Conservatism Society, covered by Ravalli Republic reporter and Associate Editor Perry Backus. "And Backus wrote that toward the end of the candidate’s talk, a man in the audience said to Gianforte, 'Our biggest enemy is the news media' and asked, 'How can we rein in the news media?' The man followed up his question by turning to Backus, who was sitting next to him, and 'raised his hands as if he would like to wring his neck.'

Gianforte smiled, pointed at the reporter and said this: 'We have someone right here. It seems like there is more of us than there is of him. I don’t have a simple solution for you. I will say that doing town hall meetings and getting out and visiting with people is very important.'

This 'joke' made at the reporter’s expense wasn’t funny at all. In fact, on its face, the statement demonstrated Gianforte’s agreement that news media are 'the enemy...' It was sickening to hear this contempt for journalists echoed in our own back yard."

May 23, 2017 Guardian Video, Reporter Paul Lewis, "Trump diehards stay loyal in Montana's 'white man's country' ", includes Guardian reporter Paul Lewis' attempts to interview Greg Gianforte, which finally occured towards the end. What Gianforte stated in his short interview, was then refuted, making Gianforte look bad by his own behavior and statements. This is the interview which Gianforte refers to in his assault on a different Guardian journalist Ben Jacobs, on May 24, 2017.

May 22-May 25, 2017 Timeline of Greg Gianforte Campaign Stops - This helps to see the where Gianforte was, in relation to the Detective interviews after the assault. Guardian reporter Ben Jacobs and Buzzfeed reporter Alexis Levinson (based in Washington, DC, she routinely deals with people in congress, important point when you hear the assault interview) had been to a number of Gianforte's campaigns in various cities.

May 24, 2017 Gianforte's Campaign Headquarters, Bozeman
Gianforte was in a room with the video being set up for an interview with Fox News from Denver. At the time of the assault, those present were Greg Gianforte, Ben Jacobs, Alicia Acuna, Faith Mangan, Keith Railey.

CCJI Files Request Timeline

After calling to request a copy of the previously requested CCJI files which were requested by the Bozeman Daily Chronicle, Montana Associated Press and the Great Falls Tribune, I (Kathryn QannaYahu) was told I would have to begin the process all over. On April 24, 2018, I placed a Confidential Criminal Justice Information (CCJI) request, with the Gallatin County Sheriff's Department, for the Greg Gianforte assault on Guardian reporter Ben Jacobs case file, which occured on May 24, 2017. Case no. DV-18-445CX

Even though a request had been previously placed by 3 other publications in Montana, and a 4th for the mugshot, I wanted the public to be able to see and hear for themselves, especially since this involves a U.S. Representative seat for Montana.

My April 24th request was ruled on by Judge Holly Brown on July 11th, releasing the files, but stating, "the Applicant may not further disseminate the information without an additional order from this Court."

Going through all the documents and audio files, I noticed the "On the Scene" audio folder was empty, which included the interview with Gianforte. After contacting the Gallatin Sheriff's Department, I was told it was not just missing from my CD, but they had missed it when it was sent to Judge Brown, therefore they would have to send the file before the Judge again. The Judge ruled on my amended file on August 16, again not allowing dissemination of the requested documents.

After not receiving the amended file for about 2 weeks, I went to Gallatin County's offices to get it directly and to look at the requests by the Bozeman Chronicle and Montana's Associated Press requests to find out how they worded their requests, allowing them to disseminate the information to the public. I also found a document from Gianforte's attorney, responding to the Chronicle's CCJI request stating, "Greg Gianforte, as a publicly elected official of Congress, believes in transparency and does not object to Ms. Bermes' request for release of 'all documents listed in the discovery receipt filed in Justice Court case TK-17-2025 on June 5, 2017.' " Dispite this position by Gianforte on September 26, 2017, my request for the public's benefit was denied dissemination.

For months I tried to reach the Gallatin County legal counsel to see what it would take to get these files released to the public , I left about 5 messages, no calls were returned. I then began looking at private attorneys. I feel this information is integral to the character of man elected to represent the public, his views on the Press and contributes to why Gianforte avoids public Townhall Meetings where he cannot control the public or a free press.

Is this what a free press looks like? - bruised arm, broken glasses and facial bruises?



















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