Rep. Michael Grimm (R-N.Y.) has been embroiled in an ongoing campaign-finance scandal, which has badly tarnished his reputation. Last night, however, the Republican congressman made matters much worse.
A Republican representative from Staten Island “physically threatened” a local reporter after Tuesday’s State of the Union address, according to the news station.The reporter, from New York City’s local NY-1, attempted to ask Rep. Michael Grimm about allegations of campaign finance misconduct.“Since we have you here, we haven’t had a chance to talk about–” the reporter, Michael Scotto, began. “I’m not talking about anything that’s off topic. This is only about the President’s speech,” Grimm said before walking away.
And if that were the end of it, Grimm would have been fine. But the congressman, apparently a little on edge, decided to then confront the journalist.
“Let me be clear to you, you ever do that to me again I’ll throw you off this f***ing balcony,” Grimm said, apparently oblivious to the giant camera directly in front of him. When the reporter said it was a valid question, the congressman’s breakdown intensified. “No, no, you’re not man enough, you’re not man enough,” Grimm said. “I’ll break you in half. Like a boy.”
As footage of the altercation spread, the congressman issued a statement, which somehow managed to exacerbate the problem.
Here was Grimm’s defense in its entirety:
“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.”
I see. So if you’re an elected federal lawmaker, you’re feeling a little rushed, you’re under a federal criminal investigation, and a reporter asks for a comment, you’re justified in threatening to kill the journalist.
For those unfamiliar with Grimm’s troubles, the New York Times ran a report in February 2012 on allegations the congressman skirted fundraising limits and accepted envelopes with cash in them in 2010, during his first campaign. The Times also documented Grimm’s business partnership with a fellow former FBI agent who was indicted on racketeering and fraud charges.
In July 2012, a federal grand jury was convened after the FBI’s public corruption unit interviewed several Grimm campaign workers. A law enforcement source told the New York Daily News at the time, “Let’s say, so far, it is a tool to get people’s attention – that we are serious about our questions about the congressman.”
And earlier this month, the FBI arrested a Grimm fundraiser on charges that she illegally funneled more than $10,000 into his campaign.
The congressman doesn’t seem to be handling the pressure well.
Update: It took about 12 hours, but Grimm eventually called the reporter to apologize, saying he “overreacted.”