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Story highlights

Greg Gianforte allegedly 'body slammed' a reporter on Wednesday

Rep. Markwayne Mullin is not necessarily sure we're using the word 'body slam' correctly

CNN —  

The buzzword around Capitol Hill on Thursday is “body slam,” and you’d be hard-pressed to find a member of Congress who better understands the concept of “body slamming” than Oklahoma Republican Rep. Markwayne Mullin, who is a former mixed martial arts fighter.

On Wednesday night, Montana House candidate Greg Gianforte was charged with misdemeanor assault after a Guardian reporter alleged he was “body-slammed” by the Republican at his campaign headquarters in Bozeman. Gianforte’s campaign has blamed the altercation on “aggressive behavior” from the reporter – the Guardian’s Ben Jacobs.

RELATED: Greg Gianforte’s assault charge puts Republicans in a lose-lose situation in Montana

With all due respect to the seriousness of the allegations, CNN caught up with Mullin in the halls of the Capitol and asked him about the altercation in Montana as well his experience from cage match to Capitol Hill. This is an edited transcript of that conversation.

So how do you ‘body-slam’ somebody?

“I think people’s interpretation of a body slam is different than the techniques. I didn’t see any footage on it, all I got to hear on it was the audio.”

Is ‘body slamming’ a hard thing to do?

“Most of the time, people, there’s a whole a lot of different interpretations. I mean a person gets pushed down, they think they’re being ‘body-slammed.’ There’s really not any certain thing, that came from more fake wrestling – you know, ‘the body slam,’ being picked up in the air and thrown to the ground. It’s all in someone’s interpretation of what someone thinks a ‘body slam’ really is.”

So, it’s more of a World Wrestling Entertainment concept of it than an actual wrestling concept?

“Probably. More of the theatrical concept than the actual practical concept.”

When you were in cage matches, were you ever able to pick somebody up like that?

“We called it takedowns. But I didn’t see the video, so I don’t actually know what happened. All I’ve heard is the audio, so it’s hard for me to comment on what actually happened or didn’t happen.”

The Fox News witnesses made it sound like he grabbed him by the back and pushed him down like that …

“It doesn’t make any difference whether it’s a body slam or not. The fact is it should never happen. I don’t care how upset you get. I know if you get mad, and in a world with all the competitors I’ve been around in my life, either from fighting or wrestling or other sports, you have to learn to breathe.”

What’s your sense from your colleagues, is there any concern about him joining the House Republican Conference if he does win?

“It doesn’t have a reflection on the conference as the Republican Party or the Democratic Party. That would be like, you know his actions is like comparing what Anthony Weiner did and saying that’s a reflection on the Democratic Party. That’s between him and his constituents on how they perceived it. Everybody makes mistakes – you’ve made mistakes, I’ve made mistakes. None of us are perfect. You know what, we’ve all lost our temper at some time. Unfortunately not all of us have done it in a public setting. What happens from this point is really more between him, his family and, unfortunately, the reporter that got put in this situation. It’s a bad situation altogether. But as far a reflection on the conference – we can’t hold everything like that towards us.”

What is your sense from talking with your colleagues?

“It’s a mistake and it’s a mistake that like I said. We haven’t talked about, as far as a conference, it’s an unfortunate situation to the reporter and to this guy’s family. That’s really what it comes down to.