January 29th, 2014
01:18 AM ET
9 months ago

N.Y. congressman apologizes after threatening to throw reporter off balcony

updated 12:05 p.m. ET

Washington (CNN) – After first defending his actions, Rep. Michael Grimm, R-New York, apologized Wednesday for physically threatening a NY1 News reporter at the Capitol.

"I apologized. I called (the reporter) Michael Scotto up. He was very gracious in accepting my apology. We're going to have lunch sometime next week and make sure this is all behind us," Grimm told reporters in Washington.

"This was an unfortunate incident that shouldn't have happened. I'm sure my Italian mother is going to be yelling at me, saying 'you weren't raised that way' and she's right," he added

Scotto confirmed that he spoke with Grimm.

It all started when the congressman, who's under investigation by the Justice Department for illegal fundraising during his 2010 campaign, walked away from an on-camera interview Tuesday night after the State of the Union address. Grimm stormed off when Scotto tried to ask him a question at the end about the campaign finance allegations.

"Alright, so Congressman Michael Grimm does not want to talk about the allegations concerning his campaign finances," Scotto said. "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, Grimm surged toward the reporter, who appeared visibly surprised.

The second-term congressman, who's also a former Marine and former FBI agent, spoke aggressively to Scotto for about 20 seconds.

NY1, a CNN affiliate, broadcast the confrontation late Tuesday night, though it bleeped out the obscenities.

"Let me be clear to you: If you ever do that to me again, I'll throw you off this f***ing balcony," Grimm said, as they were standing on the third floor of the rotunda in the Cannon House building.

Scotto replied that he was just trying to ask "a valid question."

"No, no. You're not man enough, you're not man enough. I'll break you in half, like a boy," Grimm replied.

First elected in 2010, Grimm represents Staten Island and parts of Brooklyn. In a statement late Tuesday night to NY1, he defended his comments, saying he was "extremely annoyed" because he 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," he added.

"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."

Talking to reporters Wednesday morning after the apology, Grimm said he's "passionate" and tends to "wear my emotions on my sleeve."

The congressman said he had been working on flood insurance legislation all day Tuesday and was under "a lot of pressure to deliver because I want my constituents to know I do have their back."

Speaking with another group of reporters Wednesday, Grimm was asked whether he has talked to the FBI or the Justice Department about the investigation.

"No, not at all," he said.

Grimm is accused of taking campaign donations from overseas and encouraging donors to exceed contribution limits.

Two people close to Grimm have been charged in the case, but Grimm denies any involvement.

Earlier Wednesday morning, Scotto said he didn't expect much of a reaction from Grimm to his question the previous night.

"I was surprised about his reaction," Scotto said Wednesday morning on CNN's New Day. "I'm a New York City reporter. I'm used to pushback but I never encountered anything like that"

Asked by CNN anchor Chris Cuomo if he thought the threat was real, Scotto said "I don't believe the substance of the threat at all. I'm not taking it personal. 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."

Scotto added that there were no preconditions when he spoke to the Grimm before the interview started.

NY1 Political Director Bob Hardt also released a statement, calling the congressman's behavior "unacceptable."

"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," reads the statement.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, which has long been targeting Grimm over the allegations, was quick to push out the confrontation in an e-mail blast to reporters Tuesday night.

Grimm has been known to get testy with reporters in the past, including on CNN's "The Situation Room" last fall.

CNN's Athena Jones, Deirdre Walsh, Kevin Liptak, Conor Finnegan and Greg Seaby contributed to this report.


Filed under: Michael Grimm
soundoff (435 Responses)
  1. yankquest

    Is anyone really surprised by this? Another tacky (and this is illegal IMHO) republican running his mouth. Do I think that the news has gone overboard? Well, yes, but, this representative showed no ability to think straight, and resorted to a typical street thug mentality. And he is supposed to be representing our country. Kind of like the jerk who had the audacity to yell out at the president a few years ago at the state of the union gathering. Sorry Mr. Grimm, but you are being investigated for wrongdoing, whether you are guilty or not is beside the point, it is up for public discussion. Perhaps you should have just said "no comment" when asked if you want to talk about the presidents speech, eh?

    January 29, 2014 09:47 am at 9:47 am |
  2. ToddonLES

    I'm disappointed that NY1 isn't pressing charges - the local DA should. It's one thing to call this behavior "unacceptable" its another to actually stand up for yourself and, more importantly, the concept of open journalism. It shows just how pampered elected officials can become –amazing that he thinks a reporter owes him anything. What does it even mean "I will break you in half, like a boy" ? I would bet there are a number of unreported assaults in his past. Does he have a wife and kids?

    January 29, 2014 09:47 am at 9:47 am |
  3. Orpheus392

    Big guy bullying the little guy. This wouldn't happen if Scotto was 6"4".

    January 29, 2014 09:47 am at 9:47 am |
  4. fedupwithamericanpolitics

    Just another New York Republican thug gangster. They all are, Wall Banks and Insurance Companies are their bosses.

    January 29, 2014 09:48 am at 9:48 am |
  5. Rudy NYC

    O'drama ya Mama

    While the Republicans continue to complain about the lack of "transparency" in this administration a Republican is asked a question and refuses to answer while threatening the reporters life. GOP the party of hypocrisy.
    ---------------------------
    Bingo. Isn't tht the truth? I'd bet $10,000 Romney bucks he'll wind up on Fox yelling, "Benghazi, NSA, IRS."

    How much more prroof do we need that there are some folks, who claim to be defenders of the Constitution, think the Bill of Rights starts with the 2nd Amendment?

    January 29, 2014 09:49 am at 9:49 am |
  6. jimmy

    well you don't understand, he is a former marine and fbi agent, which means as a member of our out of control police state military empire he is immune from criticism and can physically threaten whoever he wants. damn press, who do they think they are, it's not like they have a constitutional right or anything.

    January 29, 2014 09:50 am at 9:50 am |
  7. coyotesayswhat

    OH this is very bad. Impeach this creep please ASAP. we have more than enough thugs in government – in fact, can them all.

    January 29, 2014 09:51 am at 9:51 am |
  8. kurtinco

    Oh, now the congressman is doing us a favor by answering questions from the media. What a dirt bag.

    January 29, 2014 09:51 am at 9:51 am |
  9. julie

    why all the hate for this reporter, he is only doing his job, right wing supporters are such hypocrites, and lame, the guy was just doing his job......ole grimm must be guilty as hell smh

    January 29, 2014 09:51 am at 9:51 am |
  10. Wake up People!

    Stay classy GOP!! You've been on a roll for the last few weeks!!

    January 29, 2014 09:53 am at 9:53 am |
  11. The Real Tom Paine

    I'm sure that, had this been Hillary Clinton and the reporter asked her about Benghazi, the GOPers on here would be screaming about a contempt for the press, blah blah blah blah. The man is being investigated: does he really think that no one is going to ask him questions about it? Was this the best place or time to ask him question? No, but when you are being investigated, is there ever a good time? That being said, is a threat of physical violance that is being recorded a smart move? Nope.

    January 29, 2014 09:54 am at 9:54 am |
  12. Tutuvabene

    Finally. Congress threatens action instead of inaction.

    January 29, 2014 09:55 am at 9:55 am |
  13. rs

    The Right loves little dictators like Grimm.

    January 29, 2014 09:56 am at 9:56 am |
  14. Tutuvabene

    Of course, a liberal Democratic congressman would never think of such a thing.

    January 29, 2014 09:56 am at 9:56 am |
  15. I don't get it

    I expect a certain amount of professionalism?

    January 29, 2014 09:57 am at 9:57 am |
  16. JohnRJohnson

    Ah, I see we now have another politician/bully who feels who can make physical threats with impunity. Grimm accuses a reporter half his size of not being "man enough". I'd like to see this jerk confronted by a reporter who outweighs him by 50 pounds. Then we'll see how tough he really is.

    January 29, 2014 09:58 am at 9:58 am |
  17. davessworks

    Wow, a little hypocritical isn't it?

    “ I expect a certain level of professionalism and respect,” Grimm said

    January 29, 2014 09:58 am at 9:58 am |
  18. JustASec

    Grimm is the consummate ex-FBI bully Tea Party screwball congressman.
    Turns out, he's not too swift, also, making threats on camera and any where near a mic. Stupid hothead.
    Here's hoping the Justice Department nails his buttocks.

    January 29, 2014 09:58 am at 9:58 am |
  19. annebeth66

    It is time for things to get real "grim" for Grimm. These congresspeople think that they are above the law and can do whatever they please. Flip the script and if the reporter had made those threats against Grimm, Capitol security would have hauled him off in handcuffs, to be charged with making felony terroristic threats.

    January 29, 2014 09:59 am at 9:59 am |
  20. Eric

    Good. To many sissies in the government. I want action, not hugs and rainbows.

    January 29, 2014 09:59 am at 9:59 am |
  21. Tutuvabene

    Finally, we have someone who is not afraid of the newshounds.

    January 29, 2014 10:00 am at 10:00 am |
  22. DrConnie79

    I bet some of the same ones supporting Grimm on his threats, probably had strong criticism for Sherman and labeled him a thug...He used no profanity and never threatened bodily harm...Grimm did both of those, so is Grimm now a thug or does that label not apply to his kind

    January 29, 2014 10:00 am at 10:00 am |
  23. Dan

    Michael Grimm – Let's hope there is a recall effort underway, starting today. Nice job of promoting bullyism, Mike! Those who are well educated and have learned right from wrong, rather than focus on Democrat versus Republican, understand that anyone can be a schmuck – Just look at B.O. You and B.O. should be living under a bridge.

    January 29, 2014 10:00 am at 10:00 am |
  24. mark

    Typical Republican response!!! Ask a question about facts and this is what the answer you get.

    January 29, 2014 10:05 am at 10:05 am |
  25. julie

    ........republican thug base.......christie, mcdonnell, grimm we are in the 4th week of the new year th thug base keeps growing..no wonder the faux news/right wing nuts I mean supporters are going krazy their house is falling down where is my popcorn and soda this is going to be good

    January 29, 2014 10:07 am at 10:07 am |
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