House Speaker Paul Ryan said Thursday that the Republican House candidate in Montana who assaulted a reporter Wednesday night should apologize.
"Yeah, I think he should apologize," Ryan, R-Wis., told reporters when asked about Greg Gianforte, who body slammed a reporter and charged with a misdemeanor. "There is no time when a physical alteration should occur with the press or just between human beings."
"There's never a call for physical altercations," Ryan said. "So that is wrong and it should not have happened."
Gianforte, the Republican candidate running to become Montana's sole congressional seat, was charged with misdemeanor assault after allegedly body slamming Guardian reporter Ben Jacobs at a campaign event Wednesday evening.
But Ryan said it's not up to him whether Gianforte serves in the House after today's special election.
"I am going to let the people of Montana decide," Ryan said. "This is their choice."
"I do not think this is acceptable behavior," Ryan added. "But the choice will be made by the people of Montana."
Gianforte, who has never served in public office, faced widespread bipartisan criticism in the halls of the Capitol on Thursday from seasoned lawmakers who are familiar with reporters thrusting recording devices at them while asking difficult questions.
According to an audio recording of the incident, Gianforte reacted violently when Jacobs asked him his opinion about a new government analysis of a House-passed bill to repeal and replace Obamacare. Gianforte said the reporter had refused to lower his recorder, grabbed his wrist and pulled them both to the ground, although a camera crew disputed Gianforte's account.