Donald Trump’s campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, has been charged in Florida with misdemeanor battery after grabbing former Breitbart reporter Michelle Fields, allegedly hard enough to leave bruises on her arm at a news conference earlier this month. He turned himself in to the Jupiter Police Department earlier today.
An overhead security camera may have captured what no other camera in the room was able to catch: Lewandowski forcefully grabbing Fields, and pulling her back, just as she claimed (watch the video here).
Following a March 8 conference at Trump National Golf Club, Michelle Fields, a 28-year-old reporter formerly with the online Breitbart News Network, said she was grabbed on the arm by Lewandowski, 41, after she asked Trump a question about affirmative action.
Surveillance footage captured at Trump National, off Donald Ross Road, corroborates Fields’ claim, the arrest report says.
Fields, who Tweeted photos of bruises on her arm she said resulted from the battery, resigned Breitbart less than a week after the incident. She cited Breitbart’s refusal to stand behind her amid the allegations as her reason for leaving.
— Michelle Fields (@MichelleFields) March 10, 2016
A total of six Breitbart employees have resigned in protest over the incident.
Lewandowski tweeted a reply to Fields’ initial tweet: “You are totally delusional. I never touched you. As a matter of fact, I have never even met you.”
Donald Trump later that week said that he thought Fields made up the story about being grabbed and bruised by Lewandowski. “Everybody said nothing happened. Perhaps she made the story up. I think that’s what happened,” Trump said after the Republican debate. Lewandowski also criticized Fields on Twitter, calling her “an attention seeker.”
The Trump campaign asserted Lewandowski’s innocence in a statement:
“Mr. Lewandowski is absolutely innocent of this charge. He will enter a plea of not guilty and looks forward to his day in court. He is completely confident that he will be exonerated.”
Police documents indicate that Lewandowski was arrested and charged this morning, but Trump’s campaign disputes that he was arrested.
— Emily Cahn (@CahnEmily) March 29, 2016
The New York Times has more:
The formal charges stem from a March 8 encounter that dominated headlines for days and became an unwanted distraction for Mr. Trump’s campaign after his successful victories in Super Tuesday contests.
A spokeswoman for Mr. Trump, Hope Hicks, insisted that Mr. Lewandowski was “not arrested” over the allegations that he grabbed the reporter, Michelle Fields, after a news conference at Trump National Golf Club in Jupiter. Instead, she said he “was issued a notice to appear and was given a court date.”
According to the “arrest/notice to appear” paperwork from the Jupiter Police Department, Mr. Lewandowski was charged with one count of simple battery after the police took statements from Ms. Fields and a Washington Post reporter, Ben Terris, who said he witnessed the grabbing incident… according to the police report, security video from the Trump golf club showed Mr. Lewandowski grabbing her and pulling her away from the candidate.
Indeed, a series of still photographs captured from security cameras at the golf club, released Tuesday by the Jupiter police, appears to corroborate Ms. Fields’s version of events: Mr. Lewandowski can be seen reaching for and then grabbing her arm, tugging at her clothing as he pulls her; he then walks ahead of her, close behind Mr. Trump. It all takes less than four seconds.
Mr. Lewandowski is known as a combative and sometimes divisive figure in Mr. Trump’s orbit. He has been known to scream and curse at reporters with regularity, putting some on a “blacklist” for coverage he considers unfavorable. And more recently, he was seen wandering into the crowd at a Trump rally in Arizona to confront a protester, grabbing the man by the back of his collar and pulling him.