Donald Trump’s campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, has been charged with misdemeanor battery for allegedly grabbing a reporter earlier this month at a Florida rally, officials said.
Reporter Michelle Fields, then working for right-wing news website Breitbart, said she was asking the presidential hopeful a question about affirmative action at a March 8 news conference in Jupiter when Lewandowski, 41, grabbed her arm.
Washington Post Reporter Ben Terris wrote that he witnessed the battery and confirmed to Fields that it was Trump’s right-hand man who had grabbed her.
“Holy s***, I can’t believe he just did that… that was so hard, was that Corey? You should have felt how hard he just grabbed me,” Fields can be heard saying on an audio recording of the incident.
Lewandowski denied that he touched the 28-year-old journalist, calling her “an attention seeker” on Twitter and writing: “You are totally delusional. I never touched you. As a matter of fact, I have never even met you.”
Fields posted a photo of her bruises to Twitter, writing: “I guess these just magically appeared on me.”
Breitbart stayed largely silent during the incident, prompting Fields and several other staffers to resign.
“I can’t stand with an organization that won’t stand by me,” Fields said when she announced her resignation.
Ben Shapiro, Breitbart’s editor-at-large, also resigned, saying in a statement that the news outlet “abandoned and undercut” Fields “in order to protect Trump’s bully campaign manager.”
After Lewandowski turned himself in to Jupiter Police Tuesday, they released previously unseen surveillance footage of the incident.
“Lewandowski grabbed Fields’ left arm with his right hand causing her to turn and step back,” a police report filed by Fields on the incident states.
“Fields showed (police) her left forearm, which revealed bruising from what appeared to be several finger marks indicating a grabbing type injury,” the report said.
The Trump campaign defended Lewandowski, saying in a statement that he 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,” the statement said.
Lewandowski is due in court May 4.
He is represented by Kendall Coffey of Coffey Burlington in Miami and Scott Richardson of the law office of Scott N. Richardson, P.A. in West Palm Beach.
Richardson's law firm released a statement on behalf of Lewandowski, saying: "Mr. Lewandowski was issued a Notice to Appear and given a court date. He was not arrested. 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."
The Jupiter Police Department said otherwise.
Officer Joseph Beinlich, a spokesman for the department, told The New York Times: “A notice to appear is an actual arrest."
Trump tweeted defending his campaign manager, writing at 12:41 p.m. Tuesday: "Wow, Corey Lewandowski, my campaign manager and a very decent man, was just charged with assaulting a reporter. Look at tapes-nothing there!"
He then wrote at 12:44 p.m., "Why aren't people looking at this reporters earliest statement as to what happened, that is before she found out the episode was on tape?"
Fields responded, writing: "Because my story never changed. Seriously, just stop lying."