WASHINGTON (CBSNewYork/AP) — The House Ethics Committee has decided to hold off on reviewing an incident in which U.S. Rep. Michael Grimm (R-N.Y.) threatened to harm a New York news reporter in the U.S. Capitol.
The independent Office of Congressional Ethics said if Grimm threatened to harm the reporter, he may have violated House rules and the District of Columbia code.
But in a statement, the House committee said it was deferring at the request of the Justice Department, but did not say why the agency sought the delay.
The confrontation between Grimm and NY1 reporter Michael Scotto happened on the night of the State of the Union address in late January, after Scotto asked Grimm about a federal probe into his 2010 campaign fundraising.
After cutting the reporter off, Grimm told Scotto, “You ever do that to me again I’ll throw you off this (expletive) balcony.” He also threatened to “break (Scotto) in half.”
Grimm issued a statement soon afterward saying he has apologized to Scotto, which he said the reporter “was very gracious” and accepted his apology.
“This was an unfortunate incident that shouldn’t have happened and I am sure my Italian mother is going to be yelling at me saying, ‘you weren’t raised that way,’ and she’s right,” said the congressman.
Scotto confirmed the congressman called him to apologize.
“It was a short conversation, we weren’t one on one, speaking face to face. But it seemed from what he was saying that he was sincere but also at the same time, he is aware of kind of the negative press that he’s been getting as a result of this,” Scotto told WCBS 880’s Rich Lamb after the incident.
Scotto added after the incident that he never felt endangered by Grimm’s threats but said the congressman “was the angriest I have ever seen any politician.”
The ethics office is an independent agency that makes recommendations to Congress’ ethics committees.
The office said Wednesday that its board voted 6-0 on March 28 to recommend that the House Ethics Committee review the charges.
In April, Grimm was charged in a 20-count indictment on mail, wire and tax fraud. The charges stemmed from the ongoing investigation of his campaign fundraising.
The alleged fraud occurred from 2007 to 2010, when authorities said Grimm was one of the owners and the managing member of an Upper East fast-food restaurant called Healthalicious and oversaw the day-to-day operations of the restaurant.
Prosecutors said during that time, Grimm filed false state and federal tax returns to underreport more than $1 million in sales and wages by concealing gross receipts for cash purchases and paid workers hundreds of thousands of dollars off the books.
Grimm was elected in 2010 and took office in 2011.
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