N.Y. congressman Michael Grimm threatens reporter after State of the Union

3:56 PM, Jan 29, 2014   |    comments
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(CBSNews.com) - A congressman took great exception Tuesday night to being questioned by a New York cable news reporter about allegations surrounding his campaign finances and was heard on-camera threatening to throw the reporter off a balcony if the reporter brought up the topic again.

Following President Obama's  State of the Union address, Rep. Michael Grimm, a Republican from the New York City borough of Staten Island, was asked for his thoughts by New York 1's Michael Scotto.

According to NY1, Grimm called the address "divisive."

After Grimm finished answering what he thought was the last question of the interview, which was conducted on a balcony of the U.S. Capitol building, Scotto added, "And just finally before we let you go, since we have you here: We haven't had a chance to kind of talk about some of the..."

"I'm not speaking about anything that's off-topic," Grimm interrupted. "This is only about the president's speech tonight. Thank you."

He then walked away, and Scotto said, "So Congressman Michael Grimm does not want to talk about some of the allegations concerning his campaign finances.  We wanted to get him on camera on that but he, as you saw, refused to talk about that. Back to you."

With the camera still rolling, Scotto suddenly looks up, clearly startled.

"What?" Scotto asks.

And Grimm, again on-camera, though off-mike, can be heard speaking to Scotto in a low voice.

Grimm says, "Let me be clear to you, you ever do that to me again I'll throw you off this f-----g balcony."

 "Why?" Scotto says. "I just wanted to ask you..."

In muffled cross-talk, Grimm is heard again saying, "If you ever do that to me again..."

"Why? Why?" Scotto asks. "It's a valid question."

After more cross-talk, Grimm says, "No, no, you're not man enough, you're not man enough. I'll break you in half. Like a boy."

Grimm then walks away.

NY1 says Grimm released a statement following the incident, saying, "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."

NY1 Political Director Bob Hardt also released a statement, 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."

According to NY1, "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."

Update: On Wednesday morning, Scotto tweeted that Grimm "called to apologize. He said he 'overreacted.' I accepted his apology."

Grimm later issued a statement saying, "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."

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