Donald Trump on campaign manager’s assault charge: There’s ‘nothing there!’


Trump speaks with Lewandowski by his side during a news conference at the Mar-a-Lago Club in Palm Beach, Fla., on March 15. (Photo: Joe Skipper/Reuters)

A defiant Donald Trump expressed his support for campaign manager Corey Lewandowski on Tuesday after he was charged with assault by the Jupiter (Fla.) Police Department, even as surveillance footage obtained from the Republican frontrunner’s own golf club showed Lewandowski grabbing a reporter who he previously said he “never touched.”

“Look at tapes,” Trump tweeted. “Nothing there!”

Lewandowski was charged with simple battery stemming from an incident involving Breitbart reporter Michelle Fields in the ballroom of the Trump National Golf Club following a March 8 press conference there.

Fields fired back.

“Why is she allowed to grab me and shout questions?” Trump tweeted in response. “Can I press charges?”

“I can only say Corey is a fine person,” Trump told reporters during an impromptu press conference aboard his plane Tuesday afternoon after landing in Wisconsin. “If you look at her, she’s grabbing at me. And he was acting as an intermediary.”

“The news conference was over and she was running up and grabbing and asking questions and she wasn’t supposed to be doing that,” Trump continued. “If you look at that tape, he was very, very seriously maligned. And I think that’s unfair.

Trump’s Republican rivals were quick to condemn him for not reprimanding Lewandowski.

"We probably would suspend somebody,” Ohio Gov. John Kasich said. “That’s frankly totally and completely inappropriate. It could’ve been one of my daughters.”

At CNN’s Republican Presidential Town Hall in Milwaukee, Texas. Sen. Ted Cruz was asked if he would’ve fired Lewandowski over the incident.

“Of course,” Cruz said. “Members of the campaign staff should not be physically assaulting the press. I mean, that shouldn’t be a complicated decision.”

The GOP frontrunner was unmoved.

“I think it’s a very, very sad day in this country when a man could be destroyed over something like that,” Trump said. “I can’t destroy a man. I can’t destroy him. He’s got a beautiful wife and children, and I’m not gonna destroy a man for that.”

Lewandowski turned himself in to Jupiter police early Tuesday morning, entered a plea of not guilty and was released. He’s scheduled to appear in court on May 4.

“Mr. Lewandowski is absolutely innocent of this charge,” the Trump campaign said in a statement.

Fields says she was attempting to ask Trump a question when she was grabbed and nearly thrown to the ground by Lewandowski.

“Trump acknowledged the question, but before he could answer, I was jolted backwards,” Fields wrote in a blog post. “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.”

While Fields did not see who grabbed her, a reporter for the Washington Post told her it was Lewandowski.

“I quickly turned around and saw Lewandowski and Trump exiting the building together. No apology. No explanation for why he did this,” she wrote. “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.”

Both Lewandowski and the Trump campaign had vehemently denied Fields’ claims.

“The accusation … is entirely false,” Trump campaign spokeswoman Hope Hicks said in a statement two days after the alleged incident. “As one of dozens of individuals present as Mr. Trump exited the press conference, I did not witness any encounter. In addition to our staff, which had no knowledge of [the] situation, not a single camera or reporter of more than 100 in attendance captured the alleged incident.”

Trump accused Fields of fabricating the story because Secret Service officers at the event told him that nothing happened.

“This was in my opinion made up,” Trump told CNN after a GOP debate in Miami. “I didn’t see anything. All of a sudden, we heard about it later on, but the Secret Service said nothing happened. Everybody said nothing happened. Perhaps she made the story up. I think that’s what happened.”

Fields, in turn, tweeted a photo of her bruised left arm.

“I don’t know those bruises were from that,” Trump said during his impromptu press conference. “How do you know those bruises weren’t there before? I’m not a lawyer. She said she had a bruise on her arm. I mean, to me, if you’re going to get squeezed, wouldn’t you think you’d let out a scream?”

Lewandowski went as far as to call Fields “delusional.”

“I never touched you,” Lewandowski tweeted on March 11. “As a matter of fact, I have never even met you.”

Fields filed a police report the same day.

After the incident, Breitbart News CEO and president Larry Solov issued a tepid statement calling on Lewandowski.

“What Michelle has told us directly is that someone ‘grabbed her arm’ and while she did not see who it was, Ben Terris of the Washington Post told her that it was Corey Lewandowski,” Solov said. “If that’s the case, Corey owes Michelle an immediate apology.”

Both Fields and Breitbart News editor Ben Shapiro subsequently resigned in protest.

“Today I informed the management at Breitbart News of my immediate resignation,” Fields said in a statement on March 14. “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.”


Lewandowski reaches between Trump and a Secret Service agent towards Fields after a news conference in Jupiter, Fla., on March 8, 2016. (Photo: Joe Skipper/Reuters)