On March 29, police charged Corey Lewandowski, the campaign manager for GOP presidential front-runner Donald Trump, with simple battery after an incident in which police say he grabbed former Breitbart News reporter Michelle Fields, leaving bruises on her arm. Soon after the news broke, several conservative media figures hustled to downplay the charge and dismiss its significance.
Trump Campaign Manager Corey Lewandowski Charged With Battery Of Former Breitbart Reporter During Florida Event
NY Times: “Corey Lewandowski, Campaign Manager for Donald Trump, Is Charged With Battery.” On March 29, The New York Times reported that Florida police had charged Trump's campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, with simple battery. The article detailed the charge:
Donald J. Trump's presidential campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, was charged with simple battery Tuesday by the police in Jupiter, Fla., who said he had grabbed a reporter for Breitbart News 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.” [The New York Times, 3/29/16]
Conservative Media Figures Downplay And Dismiss Battery Charge
Fox Political Correspondent Dismisses Battery Charge As A “Huge Distraction.” During the March 29 edition of Fox News' Happening Now, political correspondent Carl Cameron labeled the charge filed against Trump's campaign manager “a huge distraction, obviously.”
JON SCOTT (HOST): Trump obviously is backing his campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski. He says he's going to be found totally innocent in this misdemeanor assault or misdemeanor battery charge. But how serious is it?
CARL CAMERON: Well, it's a huge distraction, obviously, and it's got a tremendous amount of press coverage already. There is a video that's been released by the police department from overhead surveillance in the Trump facility that this event took place at. And in it, there is clearly visible, Corey Lewandowski taking this woman's arm and pulling her away from the candidate as they walked through the ballroom. [Fox News, Happening Now, 3/29/16]
Frequent CNN Guest And Trump Stumper Scottie Nell Hughes: “I Can Show Bruises Having A 6- And A 7-Year-Old That Are Worse.” During the March 29 edition of CNN's Legal View with Ashleigh Banfield, guest and Trump surrogate Scottie Nell Hughes downplayed the bruises reporter Michelle Fields received, saying she's received worse bruises from “having a 6- and 7-year-old” :
ASHLEIGH BANFIELD (HOST): By the way, we're showing Michelle Fields' bruising --
SCOTTIE NELL HUGHES: Those bruises? I can show bruises having a 6- and a 7-year-old that are worse, but I agree, this is not right.
BANFIELD: No, and I agree too, that doesn't make it right. And I will say also that if anybody wants to contest sending out pictures of her bruising, she showed them to that witness at that moment, and he saw the fingermarks. He told the police he was also witness to this happening. Saw the fingermarks, and there's an audio recording saying “holy S-H-”
HUGHES: But this is a press gaggle. We in the press know that we go in; sometimes I joke I need to go in with full Kevlar, because it is. Everybody's trying to get the story. [CNN, Legal View with Ashleigh Banfield, 3/29/16]
Fox Guests Downplay Trump Campaign Manager's Battery Charge: Politics Is “A Contact Sport.” On the March 29 edition of Fox News' Happening Now, legal analyst Lis Wiehl and guest Robert Bianchi downplayed the charges, with Wiehl calling Fields a “quote-unquote 'victim'” and Bianchi calling politics a “contact sport” :
JON SCOTT (HOST): There is a video out there that appears to show Trump moving through a crowd. This reporter shouts a question at him and the video seems to show that he is getting -- that Lewandowski, the campaign manager, grabs this reporter by the arm and kind of yanks on her. She filed a battery complaint with the Jupiter Police Department. And the police department investigated and apparently says there is enough there that he has been charged with simple battery. First of all, simple battery, Lis, what is it and what kinds of penalties might he face?
LIS WIEHL: Well it's a misdemeanor, which means a year or under. So it's not a felony charge. It's unwanted touching. Technically, it's there. It's an unwanted touching in a public place. But prosecutorial discretion would definitely be there. I don't know if I was a prosecutor that I would have charged it. I would definitely talk to the quote-unquote “victim,” but when you're in a place like that and you're shouting like that and you're moving forward, it's not necessarily -- yes, technically it's a chargeable offense. I don't think I would have charged it.
SCOTT: His attorney -- I'm sorry, the Trump campaign has put out a statement. They say that Lewandowski will enter a plea of not guilty and looks forward to his day in court. He is completely confident that he will be exonerated. But if you're trying to run a political campaign, not the kind of thing you want to have to deal with.
ROBERT BIANCHI: Yeah sure, and this is kind of like -- when I was a prosecutor, this was going on all the time, when the silly season, as I would call it, would happen; that is, the political season. You'd have all sorts of people filing complaints against political candidates in order to smear them or to cause problems or controversy within the campaign. It's not something the Trump campaign wants, but I agree with Lis. As a prosecutor, when I would be making the discretion, I would be looking at all the conduct, all the circumstances. There're throngs of people that are out there, there's people shouting things. It's a very aggressive environment. He puts his hand on the woman for whatever reason, so we'll have to hear what that defense may be, and escorts her out. There was no serious injury here. It is a political environment. You know it's a contact sport, so to speak. So I don't know whether or not as a prosecutor, if I were looking at the overall dynamic of this, I would be moving forward with this kind of case. [Fox News, Happening Now, 3/29/16]
CNN Contributor Dismisses Battery Charge As “A Side Story.” During the March 29 edition of CNN's At This Hour, CNN contributor and Trump supporter Kayleigh McEnany called Lewandowski's battery charge a “distraction” and a “side story” :
KATE BOLDUAN (HOST): Kayleigh, let me bring you in for a final word on this. An additional note, Corey Lewandowski is also a former police officer. I mean, he knows the law. I think he was a police officer in New Hampshire. Who knows how that plays into what role he sees himself in with regard to Donald Trump and the Trump campaign. But Kayleigh, let me bring you in so you can have a final word on this with regard to the distraction factor. He is innocent until proven guilty. He believes that he will be completely exonerated. But this is one week before a very, very important primary in Wisconsin. You can expect that Donald Trump will be asked questions about this until that day.
KAYLEIGH MCENANY: He will. And you know, it is a distraction and I think Donald Trump is going to have to weigh, you know, having a close adviser that he obviously respects and cares about very much. And the flip side of dealing with this lawsuit as a side story. But I think the most important point today is this will all play out in court. We will see the fate of Mr. Lewandowski, but that video clearly shows that this happened to Donald Trump's back. Donald Trump did not see what happened. If any of our close confidants or relatives or friends were accused of something, the first thing we would do after the incident is ask them did you do this or did you not. And if they said, I did not do this, we would take up for them, we would be loyal to them, because that's what someone does with someone they care about. And I think that's the point that I want to put forward is, you know, Donald Trump was being loyal to a close adviser. He did not see what happened, the video clearly shows that. At the end of the day, Donald Trump is the candidate not, Corey Lewandowski, so I don't think that this will harm him going forward. [CNN, At This Hour with Berman and Bolduan, 3/29/16]
Fox's Outnumbered Host: “Of All The Things That Donald Trump Himself Has Done, I Think This Is At The Low End Of The Totem Poll With Respect To Women.” During the March 29 edition of Fox News' Outnumbered, co-host Julie Roginsky says that the battery charge is “at the low end of the totem pole with respect to women” :
ANDREA TANTAROS (CO-HOST): What about the other candidates? Cause I have to imagine if you are Ted Cruz's camp today, you are waiting to make hay of this. A lot of times you see other candidates jump on board. I would imagine, Julie, that Democrats are saying, OK, we're going to throw this at Donald Trump as well, if you are Hillary Clinton.
JULIE ROGINSKY (CO-HOST): You know, of all the things that Donald Trump himself has done, I think this is at the low end of the totem pole with respect to women. This is Corey Lewandowski; really you can't pin this on Donald Trump. If this were the only thing that happened in Trump world, of course Democrats would be all over it, but there are so many things that Donald Trump himself has said towards women and about women that Democrats can quote at will that I think in this case you really should let the legal process play out. Listen, I'm certainly not a fan of Corey Lewandowski, I happen to know and like Michelle Fields, I sympathize with her. But having said that, he is innocent until proven guilty and I think anybody would be crazy to allege that he did something until the legal process plays itself out. [Fox News, Outnumbered, 3/29/16]
Trump Ally Alex Jones Labels Battery Charge Is A “False Flag,” “Frame Job.” During the March 29 edition of Genesis Communications Network's The Alex Jones Show, host Alex Jones declared that the news of Lewandowski's arrest is “a frame job” that is “all about demonizing Donald Trump to women” :
ALEX JONES: You talk about a staged event, you talk about a false flag, that's a frame-up. It's a frame job. But it's a way he attacked women, it's the narrative, like the Bush campaign person that worked for other big Republicans, gets up at the town hall, puts her hands on her hips and goes, why are you mean to women? Why do you hate them, I don't like you. And then it turns out it was all staged. All about manipulating women to go basically vote for Hillary. All about demonizing Donald Trump to women. [Genesis Communications Network, The Alex Jones Show, 3/29/16]
Ahead Of Interview With Trump, Hannity Downplays Battery Charges Imposed On Trump Campaign Manager. During the March 29 edition of Premiere Radio Networks' The Sean Hannity Show, host Sean Hannity called news of Lewandowski's arrest “theater” of “the absurd” and says the campaign's focus and narrative “isn't where it should be” because of the news. Hannity is scheduled to interview Trump later on his Fox News show:
SEAN HANNITY: I mean, I don't know whether to laugh or cry sometimes. Things in campaigns just at times go off the rails and that's kind of where we are today.
I'm talking about this tape which is all over cable television today. Which I'm frankly -- I'm looking at the tape. I know both participants in this. I know Michelle Fields, I've know her for years. You know what we share the distinction in, Linda? We share the distinction in being sued by Lindsey and Dina Lohan together. I think the latest is it was thrown out of court on summary charges. I don't know what happened. I never paid attention to it. I just thought it was pretty hilarious. Michelle has been a frequent guest on Hannity over the years. We'll have her back. I mean, I've always gotten along with her. And Corey Lewandowski, who is Trump's campaign manager. And this all started at an event where Michelle was trying to ask a question, and then she claimed that Corey grabbed her and she had a mark on her arm, and she almost fell to the ground, and now today they actually released the tape of this whole thing. Again, just stay with me here. I'm only going -- this is theater now of the absurd. This is where campaigns, at times, and the focus and the narrative isn't where it should be.
I agree, it should be on the economy, it should be on balanced budgets, it should be on the penny plan, it should be on eliminating Obamacare and replacing it with healthcare savings accounts. It ought to be about energy independence, it ought to be about building the wall, it ought to be about education, eliminating CommonCore, all of these things that we really care about. But it is what it is. [Premiere Radio Networks, The Sean Hannity Show, 3/29/16]