'I'll break you in half. Like a boy': US congressman defends threat to reporter
A US Congressman who threatened to “break” and throw a journalist off a balcony after President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address on Tuesday, has defended his actions.
New York Representative Michael Grimm said he was “ extremely annoyed” when the reporter from the US TV network NY1 asked him about on-going federal investigations into his campaign funds during an interview in the Capitol rotunda, in Washington D.C.
On Tuesday night, Mr Grimm stopped the interview with Michael Scotto and said: “You ever do that to me again I'll throw you off this f***ing balcony.”
After Mr Scotto said he had posed a valid question, Mr Grimm replied: “No, no, you're not man enough, you're not man enough. I'll break you in half. Like a boy.”
Mr Grimm justified his actions in a statement following the address, and said: “I doubt that I am the first Member of Congress to tell off a reporter, and I am sure I won’t be the last”.
“I was extremely annoyed because I was doing NY1 a favor by rushing to do their interview first in lieu of several other requests. The reporter knew that I was in a hurry and was only there to comment on the State of the Union, but insisted on taking a disrespectful and cheap shot at the end of the interview, because I did not have time to speak off-topic,” he said.
“I verbally took the reporter to task and told him off, because I expect a certain level of professionalism and respect, especially when I go out of my way to do that reporter a favour.”
However, the political director of the network, Bob Hardt, called Mr Grimm’s behaviour “unacceptable”.
"It is extremely disturbing when anyone threatens one of our reporters – let alone a U.S. Congressman. The NY1 family is certainly alarmed and disappointed by the behavior of Representative Grimm and demands a full apology from him,” Mr Hardt said in a statement.
Mr Scotto’s questions come after Mr Grimm’s former girlfriend, Diana Durand, was charged in January with using straw donors to exceed the maximum allowable contribution to Grimm’s campaign committee.
After contributing $4,800, the maximum amount allowed under federal law, Ms Durand allegedly offered to reimburse four friends if they also contributed to the campaign.
Mr Scotto told CNN that he was surprised by the congressman’s reaction.
“I'm a New York City reporter. I'm used to pushback but I never encountered anything like that,” he said on Wednesday.