Congressman Michael Grimm lost his temper after the State of the Union last night, exploding on camera at a NY1 reporter and threatening to throw him off the balcony of the Capitol Rotunda and “break you in half. Like a boy.”
(It’s not the first time Grimm has behaved like this. Read my account of a similar exchange I had with the congressman.)
NY1 political reporter Michael Scotto had just concluded an interview with Grimm following President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address when Scotto attempted to change the topic.
Here’s the exchange via NY1:
“And just finally before we let you go, we haven’t had a chance to talk about some of the…” Scotto began before Grimm cut him off.
“I’m not speaking to you off-topic, this is only about the president,” said Grimm, before walking off camera.
“So Congressman Michael Grimm does not want to talk about some of the allegations concerning his campaign finances,” Scotto said before tossing back to the station. But as the camera continued to roll, Grimm walked back up to Scotto and began speaking to him in a low voice.
“What?” Scotto responded. “I just wanted to ask you…”
Grimm: “Let me be clear to you, you ever do that to me again I’ll throw you off this f—–g balcony.”
Scotto: “Why? I just wanted to ask you…”
Grimm: “If you ever do that to me again…”
Scotto: “Why? Why? It’s a valid question.”
Grimm: “No, no, you’re not man enough, you’re not man enough. I’ll break you in half. Like a boy.”
NY1 Political Director Bob Hardt is demanding an apology from the congressman.
“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. This behavior is unacceptable,” Hardt said in a statement.
Grimm, however, is unrepentant, claiming that the reporter’s question into an FBI’s probe of his campaign fundraising was “disrespectful,” since he had been “doing NY1 a favor” by granting the interview.
Here’s his statement in full:
“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. 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 favor. 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,” reads the statement.
The congressman also told the New York Post that Scotto “blew it out of proportion.”
Scotto, for his part, is defending the questioning, saying that his outlet has been after Grimm for a comment on the investigation since the latest arrest connected to it earlier this month.
“I thought it was the perfect opportunity to ask him a question that’s we’ve been trying to ask him for almost two weeks now,” he said on MSNBC’s Morning Joe today.
Grimm’s campaign is being investigated by the FBI for questionable fundraising tactics. The probe has already led to two arrests of individuals close to Grimm – one of whom allegedly used straw donors to exceed contribution limits, and another who reportedly raised funds for Grimm while seeking his help to obtain a green card.
Grimm has not been charged in connection to the investigation.
UPDATE (12:22 p.m.): Grimm’s Democratic challenger Domenic Recchia just issued the following statement:
“Michael Grimm’s behavior last night was disgraceful, completely unacceptable, and unbefitting of a United States Congressman. Using threats of physical violence to intimidate the press from doing their jobs is against everything our country– and our government–stands for, and is a shameful abuse of power.
Michael Grimm owes Michael Scotto and the NY1 team an apology. He also owes the people of Staten Island and South Brooklyn an apology. The people of this district deserve leadership that in the wake of the President’s State of the Union is focused and committed to restoring the promise of the American Dream for all Americans. They deserve leadership that is focused on creating jobs, stimulating the economy, investing in transportation alternatives, and strengthening the middle class. Instead they’ve got Michael Grimm, who is clearly part of the distractions plaguing Congress, not the solutions. It’s time the people of this district had a representative focused on working for them.”