Greg Gianforte House 2018 Montana Politics

Gianforte Lies About His Lie About His Lie On His Assault of Ben Jacobs

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Greg Gianforte is a Christian. I say this not to, as Mr. Gianforte seems to believe, to victimize him or somehow discriminate against him, but as a reminder that the Christian faith has tenets not included in the gospel of tax cuts and discrimination. Among the most ancient tenets of the Christian faith is one of the most absolute:

You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.

While there is some debate in religious communities about whether it is permissible to lie in certain circumstances, there is no question that the Christian tradition forbids deliberately lying to harm one another or for personal gain. And yet, despite his oft-professed commitment to Christianity, Greg Gianforte seems to be entirely comfortable with lying about his assault on reporter Ben Jacobs. This past weekend, his Washington communications staff lied about Gianforte’s original lie the night of the assault, asserting that, despite copious evidence to the contrary, Gianforte had not misled law enforcement the night of the assault.

Saturday, Mr. Gianforte sent out his communications staffer to lie about the original lie:

Travis Hall, a spokesperson for Gianforte, referred The Washington Post to a statement given to the Associated Press, in which he said the information in the documents was “nothing new.”

“No one was misled, and anyone who says otherwise is mistaken. Greg took responsibility for his actions and is focused on serving the people of Montana.”

Of course, that’s just not true. The Bozeman Chronicle reported this weekend that Gallatin County Prosecutor Marty Lambert believed that Gianforte lied, but that it’s not against the law to do so:

“When the police are investigating a case, suspects of crimes will say misleading things, and apparently that’s exactly what happened here on the part of both Mr. Gianforte and his campaign,” Lambert said.

“It is not a crime per se to lie to the cops,” added Lambert, a Republican. “The main thing here is he was charged with assaulting Ben Jacobs and pled guilty to that.”

It’s easy to get lost in the sea of lies here. From the moment Gianforte assaulted Mr. Jacobs, he’s lied–or directed others to lie–repeatedly. The night of the assault, Gianforte himself (before being rushed off by the chief of staff for Steve Daines) misled the police, claiming that he had not dragged Jacobs to the ground, falsely claiming Jacobs had been the aggressor. Next, his communications staff lied to the press and Montana voters on the eve of the election, repeating the false story. And now, this weekend, confronted with documentation proving the lies, Gianforte had his staff double down.

It’s understandable at some level that Gianforte lied in the aftermath of the assault. It had to have been shocking for a middle-aged man to find himself with his hands around another man’s throat and punching him in the face. In the heat of the moment, it’s understandable that a person would want to believe that he had done something other than what he had done, but there’s no excuse for continuing the lie today. Gianforte knows that he was wrong; he knows that he lied; he refuses to accept responsibility for what he’s done.

The real lie is the one that Gianforte keeps repeating, that he’s “taken responsibility” for his actions, a talking point echoed in his press release over the weekend. To truly take responsibility for the sin, one must acknowledge the wrongdoing and make amends. Gianforte, through his continued dishonesty, has made it clear he has no intention of doing the former. And he still hasn’t had an on the record interview with Mr. Jacobs, despite saying in open court that he would meet with the reporter, making the latter even less likely.

There’s just no taking responsibility without admitting the truth.

Mr. Gianforte lied to law enforcement, he lied to Ben Jacobs, he lied to the press, he lied to the people of Montana, he lied to a judge, and he keeps repeating those lies. Why should any of us believe anything he says in the future?

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About the author

Don Pogreba

Don Pogreba is a eighteen-year teacher of English, former debate coach, and loyal, if often sad, fan of the San Diego Padres and Portland Timbers. He spends far too many hours of his life working at school and on his small business, Big Sky Debate.

His work has appeared in Politico and Rewire.

In the past few years, travel has become a priority, whether it’s a road trip to some little town in Montana or a museum of culture in Ísafjörður, Iceland.

16 Comments

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  • Unfortunately doubling down on lies is where many of our political leaders are now days from President Trump,Roy Moore and now Gianforte are. But it appears to make little different to the base of these men as the continue to support and vote for these men, So what does that about say about those people. As a 69 year old man I really can’t put that into a thought that make moral sense.

  • Your whole argument fails on your ignorance of the reporter’s actions that led up to the “punch”.

    You say that the reporter was NOT the aggressor, but it was the reporter who burst into a closed interview, and interrupted an ongoing interview. It was the reporter who would not take NO for an answer. It was the reporter who would not let the existing interview continue. And, it was the reporter who would not leave when asked to.

    While the reporter’s actions were not illegal, they were certainly aggressive. And Greg’s statements that the reporter was the aggressor are certainly correct.

    Greg admitted to, and apologized for throwing the first punch, and has paid his debt of 200 hours of community service.

    • Were you there, Paul? Or are you just relying on Gianforte’s description on how events unfolded (which, from statements other witnesses provided, appears to be far from the truth)? As to your “(Gianforte) apologized for throwing the first punch,” I believe Gianforte threw the only punch(es).

    • @Mr Reagor – It appears obvious that you have carefully avoided listening to the actual recording of events, or reading the very specific and detailed accounts of those events by the Fox employees who were actually there to conduct that interview. There is absolutely nothing, other than the lies promulgated by Gianforte and his surrogates, that would support claims that Ben Jacobs was anything other than courteous, polite, and professional.

      Gianforte has blatantly and repeatedly lied to the police, the county attorney, the court, Mr Jacobs, and the media. The fact that you continue to claim that “alternative facts” exonerate Gianforte reveal the depth of your partisan rancor. You have no more honesty or integrity than Gianforte. I expect that establishes as well that you’re no better a Christian than he is.

  • Jacobs was right that his question was critically important for voters to have the answer to. The CBO has just scored the GOP health reform plan that was going to dump 23 million people from their healthcare and eliminate protections for preexisting conditions. It was Gianforte’s responsibility to explain what his position was on the bill, not try to hide from reporters asking the question. He had previously said he would need the CBO score before commenting. The election was the next day so there was some urgency. And it was not conceivable the Fox reporters were going to ask it this hard question. Gianforte thought he could get away with ducking this critical issue that was going to affect so many in Montana, and here was Jacobs holding him accountable in the eleven hour for an answer. How dare Jacobs do this? Ask this question for the future constituents? It speaks volumes about his character that this was the point he became violent. No, it was not the reporter who was disrespectful but Gianforte who was disrespectful of democracy, of having an informed electorate make a reasoned choice.

  • Gianforte lied over and over during his 2016 campaign remember? He lied about talking to FB officials, he lied about a wood products endorsement, he lied claiming Montana was 49th in wages, he lied about the fact that he sued Montana to block public access to the river after he moved to Montana as a multi-millionaire. He lusts for power and lies to get it…it’s what Gianforte does….

  • This is Montana – if you get in a mans face like that reporter did there is a good chance you’ll be picking yourself off the floor.

    I hope this is a campaign issue, as it will garner Greg more votes here.

    • I’d say the majority of Montanans don’t harbor your sad macho fantasies and are embarrassed to be represented by a man who can’t control his temper enough to answer some questions from a reporter.

      Terribly Christian of Mr. Gianforte, too.

      • Wrong Don – out of a million Montanans how many took the time to go vote or even drop a ballot in the mail for Hillary?

        I don’t think those sad people are in Greg’s base anyway.

        Until the Montana Dems pick a candidate all we can do is speculate, but right now Greg has a easy reelection.

        • What does this have to do with Hillary, Eric? This isn’t Fox News or Rush Limbaugh.

          And let me make sure I am paraphrasing your argument correctly: “real Montanans would punch someone in the face for asking questions.” Is that right?

          I’m also curious since Mr. Gianforte is so committed to his Christian values. Would Jesus condone his assault? Or the lie after it? Or the lie after that? Or the lie after the lie after the lie?

    • @Eric – Oh, it’s a campaign issue, all right. Why else do you suppose that Gianforte is already shoveling out the lies about it, trying to re-write the reality?

  • He has a conflict of interest on the Tax Plan Vote. If he votes YES it will save him about about $170,000 on his taxes according to a calculation I saw. He is a multimillionaire.

  • […] Fresh after telling the newspaper last week that Mr. Gianforte had said “misleading things” to law enforcement, Bozeman county attorney Marty Lambert continued his pattern of  treatment of Mr. Gianforte Tuesday, telling the Bozeman Daily Chronicle that Gianforte, despite not telling the truth, did not give false statements to investigators: […]

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