The press is quite literally having a field day, poring over videos of an incident at a Donald Trump event Tuesday in Florida. Michelle Fields, a reporter for conservative news site Breitbart News, says she was manhandled by Trump’s campaign manager Corey Lewandowski after trying to question the candidate following a press conference. This morning Fields, who posted photos of her bruised left arm on social media, filed a criminal complaint with the Jupiter Police Department, alleging misdemeanor battery assault against Lewandowski.
• Lewandowski denied ever touching Fields.
• Trump said: “Everybody said nothing happened. Perhaps she made the story up. I think that’s what happened.”
• Lewandowski tweeted that Fields is a serial “attention seeker” who had made similar allegations in the past.
• The late Andrew Breitbart’s team said they stood behind their reporter 100%. Almost immediately, they began standing a little farther and farther behind their reporter. Since there was another guy with a short haircut seen near the incident, they said, it probably was a case of mistaken identity. (That’s the problem with Trump supporters. They all look alike.)
After the incident, Fields was questioned by Washington Post reporter Ben Terris, in a conversation captured on video and audio recordings that have been making the rounds of news and social media. Terris said he saw what happened and was concerned about Fields:
Terris: “You OK?”
Fields: “Holy sh*t.”
Terris: “Yeah, he just threw you down.”
Fields: “I can’t believe he just did that. That was so hard. Was that Corey?”
Terris: “Yeah, like, what threat were you?”
Fields: “That was insane. You should have felt how hard he grabbed me. That’s insane. I’ve never had anyone do that to me from a campaign.”
Terris: “Can I put that in my story?”
Fields: “Yeah, go for it — that was really awful. That’s so unprofessional.”
Terris: “He really just almost threw you down on the ground.”
Fields: “He literally went like this and was grabbing me down. I don’t even what to do [about] what he just did to me. Oh my God, that really spooked, me that someone would do that.”
Terris: “What threat were you?”
Fields: “Nothing. I was asking about affirmative action.”
Terris: “And he probably knows you, right?”
Fields: “Yeah, I don’t understand. That looks horrible. You’re going after a Breitbart reporter, the people who are nicest to you?”
Terris: “I know, I’m going to put it in my story.”
Asked whether he could have been mistaken, as Breitbart News had now suggested, Terris said nerts on that: “I know what I saw.” He hasn’t responded to Deadline’s inquiry about the latest developments.
Meanwhile, various news and social media sites have posted all manner of video clips showing the post-press conference thrum. Although both Fields and Lewandowski are visible, none of the recordings captured Lewandowski definitively grabbing Fields. The C-SPAN video above comes closest.
Jupiter police confirmed a charge had been made but declined to release any details. However, there already has been one casualty, and it wasn’t for Team Trump. It was Kurt Bardella, whose company handled PR for Breitbart News. He didn’t mention Fields in his resignation announcement, but the website Buzzfeed reported this exchange:
Asked if it would be fair to say he was parting ways with Breitbart because he disagrees with its handling of the situation with Michelle Fields, Bardella said “It would be fair for you to say that” but that he wasn’t going to.
“What I personally feel is one thing, but as someone who’s supposed to represent them at the public-facing side of this, I was at the point where I couldn’t give 100% of myself and best thing to do was to let them know that,” Bardella said.
Bardella later tweeted that “Life is too short to invest your time in what you don’t believe or aren’t passionate about” and took a swipe at Trump: