WASHINGTON (CBSNewYork/AP) — Donald Trump says he will stand by his campaign manager Corey Lewandowski after Florida authorities charged him with simple battery in connection with an incident earlier in the month involving a reporter.
After examining the evidence, Jupiter, Florida, police determined that probable cause existed to charge Corey Lewandowski, who has served as Trump’s top political aide for his entire presidential run. Police on Tuesday morning issued Lewandowski a notice to appear before a judge on May 4 for the misdemeanor charge, which carries up to a year in jail.
The Trump campaign said Lewandowski wasn’t arrested and that he turned himself in, but Jupiter police did issue an arrest report.
Trump told reporters that “Corey is a fine person” and that he won’t be discarded.
“I think they’ve really hurt a very good person. I know it would be very easy for me to discard people. I don’t discard people, I stay with people,” Trump said. “That’s why I stay with this country. That’s why I stay with a lot of people who are treated unfairly.”
A surveillance video released by police appears to show Lewandowski grabbing a reporter for Breitbart News as she tried to ask Trump a question during a March 8 campaign event.
The police report states: “Lewandowski grabbed (Michelle) Fields’ left arm with his right hand causing her to turn and step back.” Fields showed police her left forearm which “appeared to show a grabbing-type injury,” according to the investigating officer.
CBS2’s Dick Brennan reported Tuesday the officer said Fields’ forearm revealed “bruising from what appeared to be several finger marks, indicating a grabbing-type injury.”
“Obviously nobody wants to be touched and violated like that. I ask that he put him in my shoes and imagine he was my daughter,” Fields told CNN.
Trump spokesperson Katrina Pierson told CNN that people will be moved away from a presidential candidate if they cross the Secret Service line.
“Everyone knows at these type of scrum events and jostling around and pushing and the second you cross that Secret Service line, you will be moved away from the candidate,” Pierson said.
The Trump campaign said Lewandowski “is absolutely innocent of this charge” in a statement released Tuesday. “He will enter a plea of not guilty and looks forward to his day in court,” said the statement. “He is completely confident that he will be exonerated.”
Trump himself called Lewandowski “a very decent man” on Twitter: “Look at the tapes – nothing there!”
“If you look at her … she’s grabbing at me and he’s acting as an intermediary trying to block her from doing that,” Trump told reporters.
Trump said that “Lewandowski is absolutely innocent of this charge” and that “he will be exonerated.”
The New York businessman’s rivals seized on the news, which comes a week before a high-profile contest in Wisconsin and in the midst of a messy Republican primary season.
Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, said the incident is “the consequence of the culture of the Trump campaign – the abusive culture when you have a campaign that is built on personal insults, on attacks and now physical violence.”
“That has no place in a political campaign, it has no place in our democracy, Cruz told reporters as he campaigned in Wisconsin, suggesting that “it helps clarify for the voters what the Trump campaign is all about.”
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