Footage showed Grimm physically threatening reporter Michael Sotto, telling him “I’ll break you in half” after the reporter asked a series of questions about Grimm’s alleged campaign finance violations.
In a transcript released by NY1, Michael Grimm was also heard threatening to throw Sotto off a balcony.
Late on Tuesday the GOP Congressman released a statement explaining the incident, but fell far short of apologizing.
“I was extremely annoyed because I was doing NY1 a favor by rushing to do their interview first in lieu of several other requests,” he said in the statement. “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.”
Last month one of Grimm’s major fundraisers, Diana K. Durand, was arrested by the FBI on charges that she illegally funneled more than $10,000 into Grimm’s campaign. Grimm himself is under federal investigation for accusations that he or his campaign illegally sought money from foreign donors.
On Wednesday, Sotto said he is used to hostile interviews through his work covering politics in New York City and that he never felt threatened by Grimm.
“I don’t believe the substance of the threat at all. I mean, I’m not taking it personally,” Scotto said in an interview with CNN’s New Day. “I just think he was angry by the fact that I asked that question, and I think he was even more angry by the fact that I kind of explained to viewers why he was not going to answer that question. … It goes with the territory.”
NY1 has also demanded a full apology from Michael Grimm, but so far the GOP Congressman has yet to apologize.