By now, I’m sure you’ve seen the ridiculous video of Staten Island Representative Michael Grimm threatening to snap a reporter in half, and throw him off a balcony.
“And just finally before we let you go, we haven’t had a chance to talk about some of the…” Scotto began before Grimm cut him off.
“I’m not speaking to you off-topic, this is only about the president,” said Grimm, before walking off camera.
“So Congressman Michael Grimm does not want to talk about some of the allegations concerning his campaign finances,” Scotto said before tossing back to the station. But as the camera continued to roll, Grimm walked back up to Scotto and began speaking to him in a low voice.
“What?” Scotto responded. “I just wanted to ask you…”
Grimm: “Let me be clear to you, you ever do that to me again I’ll throw you off this f—–g balcony.”
Scotto: “Why? I just wanted to ask you…”
Grimm: “If you ever do that to me again…”
Scotto: “Why? Why? It’s a valid question.”
Grimm: “No, no, you’re not man enough, you’re not man enough. I’ll break you in half. Like a boy.”
— David W. Chen (@davidwchen) January 29, 2014
So usually, making threatening comments to someone would constitute assault (it’s not clear from the video if he made physical contact, which would be a battery).
But, he made these comments in the Capitol. Are his comments protected by the “Speech or Debate” clause?
They shall in all Cases, except Treason, Felony and Breach of the Peace, be privileged from Arrest during their Attendance at the Session of their respective Houses, and in going to and returning from the same; and for any Speech or Debate in either House, they shall not be questioned in any other Place.
The Court has limited this privilege to statements made as “part of the legislative process.” Making statements to the press–even in the Capitol–are not privileged.