Donald Trump’s Campaign Manager Charged With Battery Against Reporter

The 2016 Campaign just keeps getting weirder.

Donald Trump Shrug

Corey Lewandowski, Donald Trump’s campaign chairman has been charged with battery in a case involving a former reporter for Breitbart News who alleges that he grabbed her and pulled her down when she tried to ask Trump a question at the end of a post-election night press conference at Trump’s Florida resort:

Donald J. Trump’s presidential campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, was charged with battery Tuesday by the police in Jupiter, Fla., who said he had grabbed a reporter as she tried to ask the candidate a question.

The charge stems from an incident on March 8 that attracted days of news coverage and became a distraction for Mr. Trump’s campaign as his victories in the March 1 Super Tuesday contests gave way to more mixed results.

It occurred after a news conference at Trump National Golf Club, as Mr. Trump made his way out of a crowded room and the reporter, Michelle Fields of Breitbart News, a conservative website, sidled up to him.

Ms. Fields said she was trying to ask Mr. Trump about judges and affirmative action when Mr. Lewandowski grabbed her roughly. She posted on Twitter a picture of finger-shaped bruises on her arm.

Mr. Lewandowski denied touching her and called Ms. Fields “delusional.”

But Ms. Fields pressed charges three days later, according to a police report. The investigating officer, Detective Marc Bujnowski, took statements from Ms. Fields and a Washington Post reporter, Ben Terris, who said he had witnessed the incident. The detective also obtained security video footage from the Trump golf club, which he said “parallels what Fields had told me.”

Mr. Lewandowski, Detective Bujnowski wrote, “grabbed Fields left arm with his right hand, causing her to turn and step back.”

Indeed, a series of still photographs captured from security cameras at the golf club, released on Tuesday by the Jupiter Police Department, 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. The entire incident takes less than four seconds.

Mr. Lewandowski turned himself in at the headquarters of the Jupiter Police Department at 8:10 a.m. on Tuesday. He was given a court date of May 4 at North County Courthouse in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.

“He came in and signed the notice to appear himself, on his own will,” said Officer Joseph Beinlich, a spokesman for the department. Officer Beinlich described the appearance as a brief interaction, and said that after handling the paperwork, Mr. Lewandowski “walked out the door.”

A spokeswoman for Mr. Trump, Hope Hicks, said Tuesday that Mr. Lewandowski was “absolutely innocent of this charge”; that he would plead not guilty; and that he had not actually been arrested, but had merely been issued a “notice to appear.”

But Officer Beinlich said otherwise. “A notice to appear is an actual arrest,” he said.

As I noted when this story first became public, the available evidence, which includes both an eyewitness account of the incident from Washington Post reporter Ben Terris and an audio recording obtained by Politico that picked up the conversation between Fields and Terris immediately after the incident appeared to corroborate the claim that it was Lewandowski who pulled Fields to the ground during the incident. That version of events was also corroborated by videos of the incident gathered from news organizations who were covering Trump’s exit from the room and is also apparently corroborated by video from the security cameras at Trump’s resort, which police report as clearly showing Lewandowski grabbing Fields. By definition, that is sufficient in and of itself to qualify as a battery under the law, and certainly enough to justify charges being filed against Lewandowski based on the available evidence. As in all cases, Lewandowski is innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, but it’s going to be hard for him to rebut the evidence that his employer’s own cameras seem to clearly reveal what happened.

The Trump campaign, of course, is steadfast in its defense of Lewandowski, with Trump himself now attacking Fields and  claiming that Fields touched him first even after claiming earlier this month that he was unaware anything had happened and later saying that nothing had happened. Fields herself has left Breitbart since the incident occurred, as have several other employees, largely because the sites editors apparently decided shortly after the incident became public that it was more important to defend Donald Trump than stand behind one of their own employees. Of course, that action was entirely consistent with the position that Breitbart has taken for months now since the website has largely become little more than a cheerleader for the Trump campaign.

In any case, Lewandowski’s case will move forward and probably go to trial right in time for the Republican National Convention.

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2016, Crime, Law and the Courts, US Politics, ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Moosebreath says:

    I tend to agree with Kevin Drum, both that it’s pretty clear this happened, and that this is the sort of situation that in the real world typically gets smoothed over:

    “It’s a minor incident, and all Lewandowski had to do was give Fields a quick call to apologize for grabbing her in his haste to catch up with his boss. Incident over. But apparently that was out of the question. Team Trump never apologizes. Instead they went on the warpath and publicly accused Fields of being nothing but an attention-seeking fantasist.”

    The fact that Trump and his chief aide are refusing to do so when the stakes are low does not speak well of them, and it takes little imagination to see how their inclinations would lead to unnecessary international incidents if Trump gets into the Oval Office.




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  2. James Pearce says:

    “In any case, Lewandowski’s case will move forward and probably go to trial right in time for the Republican National Convention.”

    I wonder how many heads are spinning that Lewandowski was charged for battery, but Hillary hasn’t been charged for treason.

    Garbage in, garbage out.




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  3. grumpy realist says:

    @James Pearce: a) look up the legal definition of battery. b) look up the definition of treason in the Constitution.

    (There’s a reason why we have the definition of treason written into the Constitution. Because the Founding Fathers saw what happened when the political party in power could define treason as they pleased. See a large chunk of Italian history….)




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  4. James Pearce says:

    @grumpy realist:

    a) look up the legal definition of battery. b) look up the definition of treason in the Constitution

    That was more of a comment on the Conservative Entertainment Complex’s bubble than my own views.

    I think Clinton’s e-mails problems were unprofessional, but not treasonous. I also think “battery” is a pretty good description of Lewandowski’s actions.

    I also imagine Bizzaro-James thinks Clinton committed treason by putting an e-mail server in her basement, and that Lewandowski committed no crime in pushing Fields out of the way and was, in fact, totally justified.

    The difference is that I hold one set of these views, and the other set is totally unreasonable.




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  5. grumpy realist says:

    @James Pearce: Ah, I was wondering if my snark-meter had busted because you don’t usually say things like that. Apologies.

    (The whole treason development thing is fascinating, by the way. There were all these fine gradations of treason up until the 15th century when it WHAMMO collapsed into “high treason” and “low treason” (counterfeiting).)




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  6. James Pearce says:

    @grumpy realist:

    Ah, I was wondering if my snark-meter had busted because you don’t usually say things like that. Apologies.

    No worries. It’s not your snark-meter that’s busted. I know people who seriously think that Clinton is going to be charged with a crime for her e-mail server. They’re expecting it any day, like those death cults that expect the end of the world, and they will be very disappointed when it doesn’t actually happen.

    The roots of conservative anger right there: Liars and the suckers who believe them.




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  7. Steve V says:

    @James Pearce: Yes, talk radio has already tried and convicted her, and they’re complaining the only reason she hasn’t been indicted (at a minimum) is because of some kind of banana republic hijinx. They just keep playing with fire and turning up the temperature. It worries me.




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  8. Franklin says:

    From the earlier OTB post:

    [S]ources said Lewandowski acknowledged to Breitbart’s Washington political editor, Matthew Boyle, that he did manhandle Fields.
    Lewandowski’s explanation to Boyle, said these sources, was that he and Fields had never met before and that he didn’t recognize her as a Breitbart reporter, instead mistaking her for an adversarial member of the mainstream media.

    I haven’t seen this updated anywhere. But if true, there’s not much left to do but the sentencing. Hopefully it will be appropriate.

    EDIT: OK, those sources were incorrect. He never said anything other than “I don’t know her”.




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  9. MBunge says:

    Am I too big of a jerk for pointing out that our media and our political elites are more outraged at a reporter getting her arm tugged than they were over prisoners of war being tortured?

    Mike




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  10. bill says:

    that was weak, i can’t see any judge allowing this to go anywhere. i mean really, men and women are equals so what’s the bfd?

    @MBunge: yes, nobody cares about some sheetheads playing water sports- they aren’t pows proper as they rep no country/army.




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  11. grumpy realist says:

    @bill: Dear, the equality of men and women has nothing to do with the case. This is a textbook case of battery and I’m sure all the 1L law students are having great fun following it.

    (Law–how does it work?)




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  12. C. Clavin says:

    Now tough guy Trump is saying that this reporter was a threat.
    Mr Macho is just a little baby. But he’s going to bully China and Russia and the Middle East. Right. And he’s going to force Mexico to pay for his wall.
    I can’t believe a major political party is falling for this guy.




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  13. KM says:

    @grumpy realist:

    This is a textbook case of battery

    It’s also a great demonstration of the definition of the law vs social appeal aka “It’s no big deal” in terms of pursuit of charges. The popular image of battery (as in “assault and battery” a la SVU) leaves visible, bloody marks on the victim so many are shocked at what it can really manifest as. As Moosebreath pointed out in the very first post however, things like this happen but don’t hit “call the police” because the individuals involve figure out how to act like adults and use their words. Grabbing someone like that is a crime but feathers can be smoothed out; not all infractions of the law require court proceedings.

    She was one of theirs. Reporter for a friendly news outfit (frenemy at worst), a huge part of the shock was her being treated like the “Other”. Trump acting like OMGNBD Loser is only cementing that they arrogantly feel they didn’t do anything wrong because it a “minor” crime. Just because Fields was not bleeding or had a black eye doesn’t mean Lewandowski won’t have to answer to a judge.




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  14. Tony W says:

    @KM:

    She was one of theirs.

    Except that she is a female. As we learned from Megyn Kelly that, by default, makes her NOT one of theirs.

    This is largely a movement of angry old white men.




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  15. dmhlt says:

    You just gotta love the havoc Trump, who made the catchphrase “You’re Fired” famous, is wreaking on Irony Meters when he defended his campaign manager by saying:

    “I don’t discard people. I stay with people.”

    … Well, other than the first couple of Mrs. Trumps, of course. But hey – that’s different.




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  16. Pch101 says:

    @Moosebreath:

    it takes little imagination to see how their inclinations would lead to unnecessary international incidents if Trump gets into the Oval Office.

    It’s worse than that. These are classic bullies, and bullies tend to push around those whom they believe to be weaker while kowtowing to those who they believe to be stronger. And they tend to associate strength with bluster, so it’s a matter of style over substance.

    Accordingly, I would expect them to steamroll over the allies who are polite to us, while bowing to the likes of a Vladimir Putin. Because at the end of the day, they admire strongmen because they are intimidated by them, and it’s that intimidation that earns their respect.




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  17. CSK says:

    @C. Clavin:

    He also said yesterday that he might start a shooting war with China. Might, you understand. He further stated that his foreign policy will be “unpredictable.”




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  18. grumpy realist says:

    @Pch101: I”m noticing more people picking up the fact that this is also a classic case of gaslighting. Often seen in domestic violence cases. “You’re crazy.” “I never hit you.” “Well, if was your fault, anyway. If you had just (shut up/given me sex/made dinner)…”

    All the comments guaranteed to cause a woman’s brain to freeze up and run around in little circles: oh god, is it true? Did I really do something? Did I misremember everything? I mean, he’s so confident about what he’s saying….

    So Trump is treating his audience like an abused spouse and we’re letting him do it.




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  19. Hal_10000 says:

    This just gets crazier and crazier. Now Trump is saying she was holding a pen and it could have been a bomb and OMG why aren’t we giving Lewandowski the Congressional Medal of Honor?!




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  20. CSK says:

    Trump is now claiming that the pen Fields was carrying might have been a “little bomb.”

    No, I am not kidding.




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  21. CSK says:

    @Hal_10000:

    He finally admitted that even if it was only a pen, pens are very dangerous, and the Secret Service doesn’t like them.




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  22. Moosebreath says:

    @CSK:

    “even if it was only a pen, pens are very dangerous”

    Well, they are reputed to be mightier than swords.




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  23. Franklin says:

    Well, it could have been. My penis a mighty sword, after all.




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  24. C. Clavin says:

    Trump told ABC this morning that he was going to appoint someone to the SCOTUS that would look into HIllary’s e-mails…because that’s what Supreme Court Justices do in Trumps world, I suppose.

    “…Well I would probably appoint people that would look very seriously at her email disaster, because it’s a criminal activity, and I would appoint people that would look very seriously at that…what she’s getting away with is absolutely murder…”

    This man is a complete and total imbecile…and yet he will be the Republican nominee for President.
    I just cannot believe what I am seeing happen.




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  25. Mikey says:

    @Hal_10000: Trump is an absolute fountain of idiotic and ridiculous excuses.




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  26. Neil Hudelson says:

    I have to say, Jenos is really disappointing me on this one.

    24 hours in, and he has yet to show up to explain:

    1. He’s not a Trump supporter.
    2. But Trump was totally right to be afraid of that reporter, and obviously Lewandowski was correct.
    3. Benghazi.




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  27. C. Clavin says:

    @C. Clavin:
    And now Trump has told MSNBC that women who have illegal abortions, after he makes abortion illegal, should be punished.
    Even the most radical anti-choicers go after the providers and not the women.
    This guy is friggin’ nuts…but at least he is being honest about his intentions when the other anti-choicers aren’t.




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