Trump campaign chief arrested over battery | Inquirer News

Trump campaign chief arrested over battery

/ 07:27 AM March 30, 2016

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump describes how he was ready to punch a person who rushed the stage during an election rally earlier in the day, as he speaks to a crowd in Kansas City, Mo., Saturday, March 12, 2016. (AP Photo/Nati Harnik)

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump describes how he was ready to punch a person who rushed the stage during an election rally earlier in the day, as he speaks to a crowd in Kansas City, Mo., Saturday, March 12, 2016. AP

WASHINGTON, United States — Donald Trump’s presidential campaign manager was arrested and charged with battery Tuesday for allegedly grabbing a reporter, in a dramatic new illustration of the tensions surrounding the Republican frontrunner’s White House bid.

Corey Lewandowski is accused of grabbing reporter Michelle Fields so hard that it left bruises on her arm during a March 8 Trump news conference at a golf club he owns in the Palm Beach County town of Jupiter.


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“He was arrested this morning and released with a notice to appear,” Adam Brown, a Jupiter police spokesman, told AFP, saying Lewandowski was not handcuffed after he turned himself in.

The 42-year-old is due in court on May 4, according to an affidavit obtained by AFP.

The billionaire candidate, whose rallies have been hit by a string of protests and outbreaks of sporadic violence, gave unequivocal backing to his top staffer, prompting Fields to defend herself on Twitter and accuse Trump of lying.

A Trump campaign statement said: “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.”

Trump, who has been engaged in a running feud with much of the media, told reporters from his plane: “I tell him, never settle the case, go all the way.”


According to a police report seen by AFP, Fields — who has since resigned from the conservative site Breitbart News — showed “bruising from what appeared to be several finger marks indicating a grabbing type injury.”

Police said their investigation found “probable cause” to charge Lewandowski with misdemeanor simple battery over the alleged incident, which took place as the news conference was wrapping up and she followed Trump to ask him a question.

At that point, she says, Lewandowski grabbed her forearm in a scene witnessed by a Washington Post journalist.

“I think if you look at it he was trying to block her, that’s the way I view it,” Trump added to journalists.

“She’s grabbing me and asking questions. She’s not even supposed to ask questions.”

‘Just stop lying’

Trump, a reality television star who has never held elected office, harnessed the announcement of the police action to enjoy more airtime across US news networks, while also firing off messages on Twitter hitting out at Fields.

“Wow, Corey Lewandowski, my campaign manager and a very decent man, was just charged with assaulting a reporter. Look at tapes — nothing there!” Trump tweeted.

“Why aren’t people looking at this reporter’s earliest statement as to what happened, that is before she found out the episode was on tape?”

But Fields refused to back down, tweeting back: “Because my story never changed. Seriously, just stop lying.”

Lewandowski has also had his say on Twitter, telling Fields on March 11: “You are totally delusional. I never touched you.”

“As a matter of fact, I have never even met you,” he added.

Partial videos and audio of the alleged incident made it difficult to say with certainty what happened, but video footage released by police Tuesday appeared to support the reporter’s account of events.

In a separate, later incident caught on tape this month at a campaign event in Tucson, Arizona, Lewandowski appeared to grab one man by the scruff of the neck.

Volatile mix

Trump and the media have made for a volatile mix on the campaign trail, with the brash real estate mogul not shying away from trash-talking reporters to their faces and encouraging his staff and supporters to follow suit.

Fox New recently accused him of harboring a “sick obsession” with prominent news anchor Megyn Kelly and waging a campaign of crude verbal abuse against her.

Trump also faces accusations of misogyny over his prolific insults and personal attacks targeting prominent females.

He has notably taken shots at the wife of competitor Ted Cruz, who called Tuesday’s development “very sad.”

“This is the consequence of the culture of the Trump campaign,” Cruz told reporters.

“The abusive culture. When you have a campaign that is built on personal insults and attacks and now physical violence.”

Trump — whose run for the White House has from the start attracted boisterous crowds and counter demonstrators — has been criticized by both his Republican rivals and Democrats for not reining in supporters at his rallies.

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A Chicago Trump rally earlier this month was canceled amid scuffles between hundreds of demonstrators and his supporters as police struggled to maintain order.

TAGS: Donald Trump, News, US Elections

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