Trump Campaign Manager Charged With Assaulting Reporter

The violence that Donald Trump encourages among supporters is manifesting itself in real life.

Donald Trump Shrug

Breitbart News reporter Michelle Fields, who has worked in the past for The Daily Caller as well as appearing on Fox News Channel and other conservative outlets, is accusing  Corey Lewandowski, Donald Trump’s campaign manager, of assault after an incident that occurred at the end of Donald Trump’s election night press conference in Florida after winning the Michigan and Mississippi primaries. It all started when Fields published her own account of what happened at Breitbart itself:

On Tuesday night, I went to cover Donald Trump’s press conference at the Trump National Golf Club in Jupiter, Florida. I was looking to cover the event like I have covered many live political events for Breitbart News, including an uneventful Trump press conference in Palm Beach the week before.

Addressing the gathered reporters and the nation at large, Trump was in an especially jovial mood Tuesday night. The networks just declared he had won the Mississippi Republican primary and, during his speech, that he won Michigan Republican primary as well.

I wasn’t called upon to ask a question during the televised press conference, but afterwards Trump wandered around, stopping at every reporter to take their questions. When he approached me, I asked him about his view on an aspect of affirmative action. 

Trump acknowledged the question, but before he could answer I was jolted backwards. Someone had grabbed me tightly by the arm and yanked me down. I almost fell to the ground, but was able to maintain my balance. Nonetheless, I was shaken. 

The Washington Post’s Ben Terris immediately remarked that it was Trump’s campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, who aggressively tried to pull me to the ground. I quickly turned around and saw Lewandowski and Trump exiting the building together. No apology. No explanation for why he did this.  

Even if Trump was done taking questions, Lewandowski would be out of line. Campaign managers aren’t supposed to try to forcefully throw reporters to the ground, no matter the circumstance. But what made this especially jarring is that there was no hint Trump was done taking questions. No one was pushing him to get away. He seemed to have been happily answering queries from my fellow reporters just a moment before.  

Initially at least, the story wasn’t picked up by many news organizations outside the blogosphere, although Politico’s Hadas Gold did publish an account of what happened, and The Washington Post’s Ben Terris, who was nearby when the incident happened and identified Lewandowski as the person who pulled Fields to the ground. Politico, meanwhile, released an audiotape that captured the conversation between Fields and Terris immediately after the incident that clearly corroborates both their version of events to the extent it records Terris’s immediate identification of Lewandowski as the person who pulled Fields down. While the campaign has since denied that anything even happened and accused Fields of making the entire story up notwithstanding the fact that she tweeted pictures of what clearly appear to be bruises she said resulted from the incident, initial reports suggested that Lewandowski was fully aware of what happened and explained that he didn’t know who Fields worked for because she wasn’t part of the regular press pool that normally follows Trump around:

[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.

In other words, Lewandowski is sorry for assaulting someone who works for a media outlet that has been generally positive toward the Trump campaign, but thinks it would have been perfectly okay to assault someone who is a member of the “adversarial” press. In reality, this is hardly a surprising attitude coming from a Trump campaign aide because it perfectly reflects the boss’s attitude toward the media and toward anyone who disagrees with him. There’s hardly a Donald Trump rally that goes by without the candidate speaking out against the press, calling them “scum” and “garbage” while they stand in the back of the room giving him the free media coverage that he craves, and even talking about changing libel laws to make it easier to sue reporters who publish things politicians and celebrities don’t like. These are the same Trump rallies where protesters have been manhandled and beaten by members of the crowd, including an incident just this week in which a Trump supporter was arrested after punching a protester in the face. Given such an atmosphere, it’s not entirely surprising that one of Trump’s campaign aides would find it acceptable to assault reporters.

The Trump campaign continues to deny that anything happened, and after initially supporting their reporter, the pro-Trump sycophants at Breitbart now seem to be filing investigative “reporting” pieces trying to debunk her version of events, an investigation that the Post’s Ben Terris, the only real witness to the incident, completely disputes. Now, the incident has taken a new turn with the filing of assault charges against Lewandowski in Florida:

Florida law enforcement is investigating an alleged physical altercation between Donald Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski and Breitbart reporter Michelle Fields, who filed a police report against Trump’s top aide on Friday.

Fields alleges Lewandowski strong handed her on Tuesday night as she tried to ask Trump a question following his press conference in Jupiter, Florida. Washington Post reporter Ben Terris has backed up her claim.

The Jupiter Police Department released a statement confirming that the report had been filed on Friday. “The Jupiter Police Department is currently investigating an alleged battery that occurred at 115 Eagle Tree Terrace (Trump National) on March 8, 2016. A police report was filed with the Jupiter Police department on March 11, 2016 at approximately 10:00AM and the investigation is ongoing. As with any investigation, specific details concerning criminal investigative information is not releasable while the investigation is considered active. Any additional details regarding this incident will be released once the investigation has concluded. The initial report, outlining the date, time, location, and nature of the incident will be released today,” the police said.

Independent Journal Review first reported on the charges on Friday morning.

The Trump campaign has flatly denied the allegations, going so far as to question Fields’ motivations and personal history. Following Thursday’s CNN debate, Trump told reporters that the Secret Service told him nothing happened and that Fields might be making the story up.

As is always the case, Lewandowski is innocent until proven guilty of the charges against him. At the same time, given the environment that Trump’s campaign has created, reports like this are both unsurprising and rather disturbing, especially when Trump himself says things like this:

During a Friday news conference, Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump characterized protesters getting punched at his events as “very, very appropriate” because “these are people that punch, there are people that are violent people.” His comments came two days after Rakeem Jones was sucker-punched at a Trump rally in North Carolina by a man who was later charged with assault.

(…)

On Friday, Trump went on to say “we have had a couple [protesters] that were really violent, and the particular one when I said I’d like to bang him, that was a very — he was a guy who was swinging, very loud and started swinging at the audience and the audience swung back and I thought it was very, very appropriate.”

“He was swinging, he was hitting people and the audience hit back and that’s what we need,” he added.

Trump didn’t make clear what specific incident he was referring to. But during a rally in Las Vegas last month, Trump had this to say about a protester who was escorted away: “The guards are being very gentle with him… I’d like to punch him in the face, I’ll tell you that.” He added that the protester had been “throwing punches.”

Politico, however, spoke with security guards who worked the event, and none of them saw the protester try to punch anybody.

Trump “was just over-exaggerating,” said one security guard, who asked Politico not to use his name.

Publicly, at least, Trump has repeatedly made clear he doesn’t view violence at his rallies as a problem. The topic came up during Thursday night’s GOP presidential debate. Trump said he hopes his campaign hasn’t created a tone of violence, but then described his supporters as simply having “tremendous passion.”

“When they see protesters, when they see what’s going in on the country, they have anger,” Trump said. “They don’t like seeing bad trade deals, higher taxes, loss of their jobs.”

And this is the Republican frontrunner for President of the United States.

Update: Newly released video from C-Span appears to corroborate Fields and Terris’s version of events. More on this video at The Daily Beast.

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2016, 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. Pch101 says:

    If Trump is elected, then I’m going to make a fortune selling brown shirts and developing training camps for the Trumpjugend.

  2. OzarkHillbilly says:

    It’s only a matter of time.

  3. legion says:

    @Pch101: Be careful there… if you make too much you might start looking like a successful Jewish businessman to them…

  4. Bob@Youngstown says:

    I wonder if Lewandowski has the same split-personality disorder that his boss has?

    It’s become very clear, from this morning’s press conference with Carson that Trump has two opposing personalities.

    Wonder which one would sit in the oval office.

  5. Mu says:

    Can we settle for long brown coats? Much more stylish, and don’t need ironing.

  6. Modulo Myself says:

    If you can manage a five minute brisk jog for more than five minutes you’re safe. Most Trump supporters can barely make the trip from their car to the speech.

    Imagine the Nuremberg rally done with adult scooters.

  7. Pch101 says:

    @legion:

    White House press conferences will be replaced by the weekly Washington Apprentice TV program. Each week, one of the administration members/ contestants will be terminated, literally, in front of a studio audience: “You’re executed!”

    (Don’t worry about missing the show — all the networks will be required to carry it, and you’ll be required to watch it.)

  8. gVOR08 says:

    I’d like to punch him in the face, I’ll tell you that.

    The mental picture of Donald Trump personally getting physical with anyone is pretty funny.

    (The incident with his first(?) wife was some years and many, many pounds ago. I don’t want to get into weight shaming. let me just say that he’s got a really good tailor.)

  9. KM says:

    For every pro-Trump GOP idiot that gets excited thinking they might get to give a stranger “what’s coming to them” is at least one horrified future ex-GOP voter. This type of violence and anger is starting to scare a culture who causally uses the word Nazi to describe things like anger-issue sufferers and overly-controlling people (ie Soup Nazi)

    For a growing segment of the GOP, it’s not funny anymore. Fields is young, white, pretty, conservative & one of theirs and this happens to her. The usual tribal markers aren’t going to be enough – the fervor of the Trump cult is drawing increasingly sharp lines between US and THEM. GOP voters, used to being US, are now unnerved to discover they might be a THEM….. and that bad things can and will happen to THEM.

  10. CB says:

    If those Politico comments are indicative of how the next 8 months of this campaign will go, just shoot me now. These are deeply, deeply shitty people.

  11. Hal_10000 says:

    We’ve gone through the spin cycles fast here:

    1) Trumpers say Fields is lying.
    2) In respond to audio, they say she’s exaggerating.
    3) They say no one knew who she was.
    4) video emerges
    5) They say she had it coming.

    Trump can do no wrong.

  12. Davebo says:

    Pretty big news in the GOP primary today with Rubio essentially endorsing Kasich in Ohio.

  13. CB says:

    @Hal_10000:

    5) They say she had it coming.

    I’d like to add at least six more ‘deeplys’ to my previous statement.

  14. Gromitt Gunn says:

    @Hal_10000:

    5) They say she had it coming.

    And then he ran into my knife. He ran into my knife ten times.

    This candidacy is the Cell Block Tango writ large.

  15. CSK says:

    @Hal_10000:

    Yes, and isn’t that deeply horrifying.

  16. the Q says:

    Ok, here’s what I would like to see happen, a protester attends a Trump rally in Florida, making sure he is filmed, preferably outdoors after Trump’s speech is over. He approaches the Donald and is immediately surrounded by an angry mob, which hopefully hits or pushes him around.’

    Out comes the Glock and down goes as many Trump Nazis as he has bullets in his clip.

    He will claim the “zimmerman” defense as in, “I stood my ground as I feared for my life and was only protecting myself from being killed. We all saw the sucker punch which happended at a previous Trump meeting and because Florida is an open carry state, I wasn’t about to let some redneck Klansman get the jump on me, so I just had to shoot first as I wasn’t going to end up like Trayvon Martin.”

    Verdict, “not guilty, citing the Zimmerman precedent.

  17. Pch101 says:

    @the Q:

    You should learn about Horst Wessel, one of the early “martyrs” to the Nazi cause.

    Along those lines, the assassination of a German diplomat in France would be used to justify Kristallnacht.

  18. MarkedMan says:

    Personal loyalty oaths to Trump, right arms raised in salute. He encourages his pshychophants to beat up protesters, going so far as to offer to pay their legal bills.

    As I’ve been saying for years, THIS is the modern Republican party. Not what James wishes it were, but what it actually is.

  19. anjin-san says:

    @gVOR08:

    I doubt very much that Trump has ever done anything that requires personal courage. Scratch a bully, and you inevitably find a coward underneath. Trump is a tough guy when he has hired muscle close at hand.

  20. JohnMcC says:

    I’d like to congratulate Mr Trump’s wonderful stage-management of his recent Chicago triumph. He has completely won over everyone in this country who feels victimized by political correctness, the elites of various sorts and in particular ‘those people’. This is certainly a significant share of the R-party coalition and he played their favorite concerto like the maestro we know him to be.

  21. grumpy realist says:

    @JohnMcC: “PC” to these people means not hitting people, not beating them up, and not verbally abusing them.

    What they like about The Donald is that he’s acting just the same way they want to do towards their bosses and their ex-wives but don’t dare.

  22. m u n c h box gradutate says:

    Update: Newly released video from C-Span appears to corroborate Fields and Terris’s version of events. LOL!!!

    ….so your update clearly shows nothing happened…it even has audio to confirm it.
    I mean clearly if she was asking a question and then was forcibly grabbed and almost thrown to the ground she would have made at least a sound of “hey get your hands off of me” or something …but nothing is heard. why not??? because clearly nothing happened.

    How have you lapdogs been? you seem to be super lonely without asshat around anymore.
    did you guys ban him? or was he just fed up with your insentience stream of loser BS?
    I am sure the junkie can provide me a link to the exact day that he said enough with you losers.

  23. CSK says:

    @grumpy realist:

    Yep. Just like every demagogue in history, he got where he is by appealing to the worst in people.

  24. Mikey says:

    @Pch101:

    Horst Wessel

    Die Fahne hoch! Die Reihen fest geschlossen!
    Die Trumpfolgern marschieren mit ruhig, festem Schritt…

  25. Franklin says:

    @m u n c h box gradutate: It’s interesting to see the denial here. All the evidence (including Lewandowski’s own admission!), but nothing can sway your mind. The psychology books spell out exactly what the rest of us are to do here. Say “I don’t agree” and then walk away, because it’s pointless to argue with somebody whose mind can’t be changed by evidence.

  26. munchiebox says:

    Franklin,

    watch the video ….*listen to the audio*… there was no skirmish…I can’t deny what I didn’t see…or hear for that matter. I mean she said has never been squeezed sooooo hard in her life…and it didn’t seem to affect her line of questions….not a peep was heard. I watched all the video with all the different angles …and nothing….seems strange in a room full of audio and video recording equipment don’t you think? maybe i missed one? provide a link lapdog to this so called evidence.

    also what happen to Mike Reynolds? Did your collective dishonesty drive him away from hive?

  27. An Interested Party says:

    you seem to be super lonely without asshat around anymore.

    You are quite mistaken…no one here was lonely without you around…

  28. James Pearce says:

    @munchiebox:

    also what happen to Mike Reynolds? Did your collective dishonesty drive him away from hive?

    Last we saw him, he was walking away shouting insults over his shoulder. At first I thought it was hatred keeping him away, but now I think it might be embarrassment.

    Unsurprisingly, this year’s election has not become about Syrian refugees…..

  29. Deserttrek says:

    @Pch101: bigot … i am sure small children and animals are not safe around you

  30. Deserttrek says:

    @the Q: get professional help and soon you need it

  31. al-Ameda says:

    @Deserttrek:

    @Pch101: bigot … i am sure small children and animals are not safe around you

    Dislike of Nazi-ism is evidence of bigotry?
    Get help.