Only after winning Montana’s special election for the state’s one seat in the House of Representatives did Greg Gianforte apologize for allegedly body slamming a reporter who had asked him a question about House-passed Trumpcare legislation.

“Last night I learned a lesson; last night I made a mistake,” Gianforte told his fans while taking his election victory lap.

“And we forgive you!” someone interrupted.

“…and I took an action that I can’t take back,” the politician continued, adding, “I’m not proud of what happened. I should not have responded in the way that I did, and for that I’m sorry….I should not have treated that reporter that way. And for that I’m sorry, Mr. Ben Jacobs.”

But Gianforte had taken two actions on Thursday night: allegedly attacking Jacobs and then issuing a statement blaming the Guardian reporter for having caused Gianforte to allegedly attack the “liberal journalist.” Jacobs told CNN’s Don Lemon the statement “was in some ways far worse” than the incident itself.

Within a period of hours, Gianforte was formally charged with assault and was elected Montana’s new member of House of Representatives, beating Democratic folk singer Rob Quist with just over 50% of the vote. Media called the special election to replace Ryan Zinke, who now is Trump’s Secretary of the Interior, an early test of Trump’s popularity, which POTUS acknowledged in an unsolicited shout-out from the G7 summit in Italy. “Great win in Montana!” Trump said.

Veep Mike Pence spoke at slightly greater length, tweeting: “Congrats on great win & gracious speech. Look forward to having you help @realDonaldTrump #MAGA”

Here is Gianforte’s official statement as to what occurred on the eve of the election:

“Tonight, as Greg was giving a separate interview in a private office, The Guardian’s Ben Jacobs entered the office without permission, aggressively shoved a recorder in Greg’s face, and began asking badgering questions,” his office said in a statement after the candidate allegedly attacked the reporter. “Jacobs was asked to leave. After asking Jacobs to lower the recorder, Jacobs declined. Greg then attempted to grab the phone that was pushed in his face. Jacobs grabbed Greg’s wrist, and spun away from Greg, pushing them both to the ground. It’s unfortunate that this aggressive behavior from a liberal journalist created this scene at our campaign volunteer BBQ.”