Donald Trump is standing by his campaign manager who is charged with battery. It’s a move that’s come with its fair share of controversy.
Police said the campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, is charged with intentionally grabbing and bruising the arm of Michelle Fields at a political rally on March 8 in Jupiter, Fla. Fields was a reporter for conservative news outlet Breitbart News.
— Michelle Fields (@MichelleFields) March 10, 2016
Footage shows Fields had attempted to ask questions to the GOP front-runner while he was walking through a crowd. Lewandowski allegedly grabbed Field’s arm. She said the encounter left finger-shaped bruises on her arm, leading up to the misdemeanor charges.
Two days after the incident, Fields shared more of her story online.
“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,” she states. “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,” Fields continued. “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.“
In the days following the incident, Fields had resigned from her job, saying Breitbart News did not support her as she had hoped.
Because my story never changed. Seriously, just stop lying. https://t.co/1fz9cBHOuT
— Michelle Fields (@MichelleFields) March 29, 2016
Lewandowski has been relatively silent about the matter on social media, but has Tweeted a few comments with articles.
In one message he shared on March 10, Lewandowski Tweets, “Michelle Fields is an attention seeker who once claimed Allen West groped her but later went silent,” citing a link from Got News.
Michelle Fields is an attention seeker who once claimed Allen West groped her but later went silent. https://t.co/J86Ej42eYx
— Corey Lewandowski (@CLewandowski_) March 10, 2016
Among these claims, Trump’s campaign has denied the events as detailed by Fields.
“The accusation, which has only been made in the media and never addressed directly with the campaign, is entirely false,” states Hope Hicks on behalf of Trumps campaign. “As one of the 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 said situation, not a single camera or reporter of more than 100 in attendance captured the alleged incident.”
Trump said the reporter is taking advantage of the spotlight, which he described in a recent interview on NBC’s Today Show. Some people have asked Trump to apologize. He doesn’t think it would help.
“I actually don’t think so, I think she would have pressed charges anyway, because I think she likes it — that’s my opinion, maybe I’m wrong,” Trump said on the Today Show. “I think if he called up, I think if he said he’s sorry, I think she would have used it against him. I’m not a believer in that.”
Lewandowski had turned himself in at the headquarters of the Jupiter Police Department at 8:10 a.m. on Tuesday, March 26, according to The New York Times. He is charged with one count of simple battery. He is expected to be in court on May 4 in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.
VIOLENCE ON THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL
There have been a number of rallies in Louisville and Chicago that turned violent. Trump supporters and demonstrators clashed at a rally set for March 11 in Chicago. At least five people were arrested at the event. According to CNN, two officers were injured, including one who was hit in the head with a bottle.
“Mr. Trump just arrived in Chicago, and after meeting with law enforcement, has determined that for the safety of all of the tens of thousands of people that have gathered in and around the arena, tonight’s rally will be postponed to another date,” the Trump campaign said in a statement that night. “Thank you very much for your attendance and please go in peace.”
— Corey Lewandowski (@CLewandowski_) March 12, 2016
However, Chicago authorities said they did not speak with the Trump campaign before the event was called off that day. About 300 officers were on hand for crowd control, said Chicago Interim Police Superintendent John Escalante to CNN. Escalante said he was confident in providing a secure environment for both supporters and demonstrators.
The organized group of people, many of them thugs, who shut down our First Amendment rights in Chicago, have totally energized America!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 12, 2016
There has also been uproar from Trump opponents, saying his campaign has been marked by too much violence. Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton said Trump and his campaign team is “inciting violent behavior and aggressive behavior.”
In a campaign stop in La Crosse, Wisc., Clinton said the incident may foreshadow what’s to come if Trump were elected president.
“I think that every candidate has to be responsible for what happens in their campaign,” Clinton said, “and, as I’ve said repeatedly, what Donald Trump has been doing these last months is inciting violent behavior and aggressive behavior that I think is very dangerous and has resulted in attacks on people at his events and this charge that was brought against his campaign manager.”
TENSION AT RALLIES
Trump’s direct opponents have said his actions are alarming.
“In any campaign, responsibility starts at the top,” Texas Sen. Ted Cruz said at CNN’s latest Republican debate. “When you have a campaign that affirmatively encourages violence,” he continued, “you create an environment that only encourages that sort of nasty discourse.”
Why is it that the horrendous protesters, who scream, curse punch, shut down roads/doors during my RALLIES, are never blamed by media? SAD!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 20, 2016
In the fall, a Black Lives Matters protester interrupted a rally. Trump said maybe that person “should have been roughed up.” Then, in February, Trump told supporters to “knock the crap out of” anybody “getting ready to throw a tomato,” CNN reveals in March 12 article.
“Knock the crap out of them, would you? Seriously. OK? Just knock the hell — I promise you, I will pay for the legal fees. I promise, I promise,” Trump said.
During a latter CNN Republican debate in March, Trump did clarify that he does not support violence at his events.