Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Rep. Grimm Apologizes to NY1 Reporter For On-Camera Threat

Staten Island Rep. Michael Grimm has apologized to NY1 political reporter Michael Scotto a day after physically threatening him at the conclusion of an interview in the Capitol Rotunda following the president's State of the Union address.

Grimm called Scotto Wednesday morning and offered the verbal apology saying he "overreacted."

Scotto tells NY1 he accepted the apology and believes that it was sincere.

Grimm also released a written apology following the phone call.

It reads, "I was wrong. I shouldn’t have allowed my emotions to get the better of me and lose my cool. I have apologized to Michael Scotto, which he graciously accepted, and will be scheduling a lunch soon. In the weeks and months ahead I’ll be working hard for my constituents on issues like flood insurance that is so desperately needed in my district post Sandy."

Grimm's threats came at the end of a brief interview in which he discussed the president's speech Tuesday night, calling the address "divisive."
Scotto then tried to ask the congressman about the ongoing federal investigation into his 2010 campaign fundraising:

"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..."

[[cross talk]]

Grimm: "If you ever do that to me again..."

Scotto: "Why? Why? It’s a valid question."

[[cross talk]]

Grimm: "No, no, you're not man enough, you're not man enough. I'll break you in half. Like a boy."

Grimm released a statement immediately following the incident.

"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," read the statement.

NY1 Political Director Bob Hardt released a statement as well, saying, "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."

The FBI earlier this month charged 47-year-old Diana Durand 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, Durand allegedly offered to reimburse four friends if they contributed to the campaign.

Grimm is not charged with any wrongdoing in connection with the probe.

Speaking to reporters Wednesday, Mayor Bill de Blasio said Congressman Grimm's threats on Tuesday were absolutely inappropriate and urged Congress to sanction the Staten Island Republican for his behavior.

"A leader can't do that. It's just absolutely unacceptable. And if a leader does that those in power those in the leadership structure have to speak out. So I would hope that the house leadership says very strongly this is unacceptable behavior," de Blasio said.

Grimm is up for re-election and his bid for a third term in Congress was already getting national attention, even before Tuesday night's incident.

Former City Councilman Domenic Recchia, a Democrat, is running against him.

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