Staten Island Congressman Threatens to Throw NY1 Reporter Off a Balcony
STATEN ISLAND — Staten Island Rep. Michael Grimm threatened to throw a NY1 reporter off a balcony and break him in half after an interview televised live following the president's State of the Union address Tuesday night.
When reporter Michael Scotto tried to ask Grimm about an investigation into his 2010 campaign fundraising, Grimm abruptly cut him off and walked away, then returned and threatened Scotto, video posted by NY1 shows.
"Let me be clear to you, you ever do that to me again I'll throw you off this f-----g balcony," Grimm can be heard telling Scotto.
While Scotto argued it was a valid question, Grimm threatened to break him in half.
"No, no, you're not man enough, you're not man enough. I'll break you in half. Like a boy," Grimm said.
After the incident, Grimm was less than apologetic. He released a statement on Tuesday night and said he was in a rush and only there to comment on the SOTU.
"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 statement reads.
"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.
"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."
On Wednesday morning, NY1 reported that Grimm called Scotto to apologize and invited him to lunch. Scotto accepted the apology.
He later released a statement and tried to turn the focus away from his behavior and towards the work he's doing for flood insurance fixes in Staten Island.
"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," the statement said.
"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."
Before the apology, local politicians also called on Grimm to make amends with the reporter.
"There has to be neutral respect even when your questions are tough — your job is to ask tough questions," Mayor Bill de Blasio told reporters at an unrelated press conference, Politicker reported.
"But to physically threaten someone? That’s something no public servant should do. And I think he owes Mr. Scotto an apology."
Republican Staten Island Councilman Vincent Ignizio also took to Twitter to call on the congressman to apologize.
"Grimm comments regrettable and clearly he lst control of his emotions hes human but should apologize @mikescotto a good guy known em for yrs," Ignizio tweeted.
On Tuesday night, NY1 Political Director Bob Hardt released a statement calling Grimm's behavior "unacceptable."
"It is extremely disturbing when anyone threatens one of our reporters, let alone a U.S. congressman," Hardt said.
"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."
On Wednesday morning, Hardt also outlined other times Grimm blew his top at NY1 reporters in his daily column.
In 2012, after Erroll Louis asked about probes into his 2010 fundraising following an interview in 2012, Grimm reportedly started yelling at Louis and Hardt and threatened to "take this outside."
The congressman also complained to Hardt when Staten Island reporters asked him about the probe, Hardt wrote.
Earlier this month, the FBI charged Diana Durand, 47, a fundraiser for Grimm, with election fraud for allegedly using straw donors to give more than legally allowed to the congressman's 2010 campaign, the New York Daily News reported.
Another fundraiser for Grimm's 2010 campaign, Ofer Biton, was arrested and pleaded guilty to visa fraud last year. He raised $300,000 from a congregation on the Upper East Side, which he then illegally funneled into Grimm's campaign.
Grimm is up for re-election in November and will face off against Democrat and former Brooklyn Councilman Domenic Recchia Jr.