NEW YORK—U.S. Congressman Michael Grimm has apologized to NY1 political reporter Michael Scotto after threatening him following Tuesday night’s presidential State of the Union speech. Grimm, who represents Staten Island and part of Brooklyn, told Scotto: “I’ll break you in half. Like a boy.” He also told him that he would throw him over the balcony they were standing next to.
Scotto had just finished a very brief interview with Grimm about the State of the Union speech and tried to ask an off-topic question about an investigation into his 2010 campaign finances. As Grimm walked away, Scotto turned to the camera to wrap up the segment.
“So Congressman Michael Grimm does not want to talk about some of the allegations concerning his campaign finances,” Scotto said on camera. At that point, Grimm came back and began to threaten Scotto with the camera rolling.
The same evening, Grimm issued a statement to NY1 about the incident, blaming it on a “cheap shot” by the reporter.
“I expect a certain level of professionalism and respect, especially when I go out of my way to do that reporter a favor,” said Grimm’s statement, according to NY1. “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.”
By Wednesday, Grimm had apologized to Scotto by telephone and said he “will be scheduling a lunch soon.”
“I was wrong,” said Grimm’s statement Wednesday, according to NY1. “I shouldn’t have allowed my emotions to get the better of me and lose my cool.” He added that he looks forward to going back to addressing the needs of Sandy victims in his district. Grimm has been a very active supporter of Sandy relief measures, particularly on Staten Island.
Also Wednesday, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio called Grimm’s actions “absolutely inappropriate.”
“There has to be mutual respect even when your questions are tough, your job is to ask tough questions,” said de Blasio while fielding questions from reporters following an annual hometown heroes’ event. “But to physically threaten someone? That’s something that no public servant should do.”
De Blasio added that he hopes House leadership makes a statement against the “unacceptable behavior,” considering the impact on constituents.
“We always have to ask the question, ‘What does it say to our constituents? What does it say to the people? What does it say to our young people?’ A leader can’t do that,” de Blasio said.