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'I'll break you in half,' U.S. congressman threatens reporter

Source: Reuters - Wed, 29 Jan 2014 17:24 GMT
Author: Reuters
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(Adds Grimm, reporter statements on Wednesday)

WASHINGTON, Jan 29 (Reuters) - U.S. Representative Michael Grimm apologized on Wednesday after being caught on television camera saying to a reporter, "I'll break you in half," after he was asked in an interview about a federal investigation into campaign finance violations.

The New York City Republican had just walked away after the interview on Tuesday night in the Capitol building in Washington with cable channel NY1 News. He was asked about the arrest this month of one of his fundraisers.

With the camera still rolling, Grimm returned and confronted the reporter, Michael Scotto. He could be heard saying, "I'll break you in half," and NY1 said he threatened to throw Scotto over a balcony.

Scotto, in a post on Twitter late on Wednesday morning, said the congressman had called him to apologize.

"He said he 'overreacted.' I accepted his apology," Scotto wrote. The television reporter earlier said the congressman's reaction took him by surprise.

"I was not expecting that response," Scotto said in an interview that aired on NBC's "Today" show on Wednesday.

Representative Grimm, of the New York City borough of Staten Island, had initially defended his reaction. He issued a statement late on Tuesday, saying the reporter had taken a "cheap shot" by asking a question about a topic other than President Barack Obama's State of the Union address, which the president had just delivered.

On Wednesday, Grimm told reporters that his outburst had been wrong. Asked if he had been drinking, he laughed and said 'no', according to the interview which aired on NBC News.

"I'm a human being and sometimes your emotions get the better of you and the bottom line though is it shouldn't happen, you shouldn't lose your cool and that's why I apologized. When you're wrong, you're wrong, you have to admit it and it shouldn't have happened," Grimm told reporters, according to The Washington Post.

A fundraiser for Grimm, Diana Durand, was arrested this month on charges she illegally funneled more than $10,000 to his campaign. (Reporting by Eric Beech; Additional reporting by Susan Heavey; Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe and Stephen Powell)

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