Donald Trump’s campaign manager Corey Lewandowski is being charged with misdemeanor battery following an alleged attack on a reporter from conservative news site Breitbart. Michelle Fields, the journalist in the case, says she was attempting to ask Trump a question during a campaign event in Jupiter, Florida, when Lewandowski harshly yanked her arm.
Trump’s team defended Lewandowski in a statement released to press.
"Mr. Lewandowski is absolutely innocent of this charge," the Trump campaign's message read, according to NBC News. "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."
Jupiter police have released footage of the incident. Here’s one look at the scene, courtesy of BNO News:
Here’s another, with a closer look at the exchange, from ABC News.
Lewandowski, who turned himself in to authorities today, is scheduled to appear in court again in front of a judge on May 4. He had maintained his innocence in the attack, writing on Twitter on March 10 that Fields is “totally delusional.”
Politico managed to get audio of the exchange between Fields and incident witness Ben Terris, of the Washington Post. The site states that the recording “supports the reporter's version of the events.”
Here is the transcript:
Din of people talking, clanking of glasses, snippets of conversation, reporters telling one another to "move up a little," greeting each other, saying "good to see you" saying "OK good quote then," then clearly action picks up as cameras start clicking.
Fields: Mr. Trump, you went after the late Scalia for affirmative action, do you—are you still against affirmative action?
Voice (allegedly Corey Lewandowski): Excuse me, thank you.
A few moments later (noise of the room can be heard)…
Terris: You OK?
Fields: Holy sh*t.
Terris: Yeah, he just threw you.
Fields: I can’t believe he just did that, that was so hard. Was that Corey?
Terris: Yeah, like, what threat were you?
Fields: That was insane. You should have felt how hard he grabbed me. That's insane. I’ve never had anyone do that to me from a campaign.
Terris: Can I put that in my story?
Fields: Yeah, go for it — that was really awful. That’s so unprofessional.
Terris: He really just almost threw you on the ground.
Fields: He literally went like this and was grabbing me down. I don’t even want to do what he just did to me. Oh my God, that really spooked me that someone would do that.
Terris: What threat were you?
Fields: Nothing. I was asking about affirmative action.
Terris: And he probably knows you, right?
Fields: Yeah, I don’t understand. That looks horrible. You’re going after a Breitbart reporter, the people who are nicest to you?
Terris: I know, I’m going to put it in my story.
Fields quit her job earlier this month in response to what she suggested was a lack of support by the site following her allegations.
“Today I informed the management at Breitbart News of my immediate resignation,” Fields told BuzzFeed News in a statement. “I do not believe Breitbart News has adequately stood by me during the events of the past week and because of that I believe it is now best for us to part ways.”
She was accompanied in her exit by Breitbart editor-at-large Ben Shapiro, who suggested his resignation was a protest vote in favor of Fields. In a message, he accused the site of backing "a bully," Trump, over its own reporter.
“In my opinion, [Breitbart News chair] Steve Bannon is a bully, and has sold out Andrew’s mission in order to back another bully, Donald Trump,” Shapiro wrote in a statement, according to Buzzfeed. “He has shaped the company into Trump’s personal Pravda, to the extent that he abandoned and undercut his own reporter, Breitbart News’ Michelle Fields, in order to protect Trump’s bully campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, who allegedly assaulted Michelle.”
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