6th Update, April 14, 11 AM: No charges will be filed against Donald Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski, David Aronberg, State Attorney for Palm Beach County, said today at a news conference.
There was enough evidence for Jupiter police to have charged Lewandowski with simple battery for having grabbed former Breitbart reporter Michelle Fields as she was attempting to talk to Trump at a campaign event, but Aronberg said the case is “not strong enough to meet the legal burden of a reasonable likelihood of a conviction.”
Trump did reach out to his office about the case, Aronberg acknowledged to reporters at the news conference and “gave his version of the facts and his opinion of the case and urged us to do the right thing.” Asked what Trump had said, he responded that “she touched him and that’s it…and he did not think Lewandowski should be prosecuted for it.”
Aronberg insisted politics played no role in his department’s decision, acknowledging he is a registered Democrat. He also acknowledged he was a college dorm hallmate of Trump’s GOP rival Ted Cruz –”We shared a bathroom in law school.” Aronberg, who is a former member of the Florida Senate, said he knew Sen. Marco Rubio, a former GOP presidential candidate, in the state legislature and had “met Trump on occasion.” None of which, he insisted had any impact on his decision which he said was “made solely on the facts, the evidence and the law.”
5th UPDATE, March 29, 6:30 PM: It would have been “so easy to terminate” campaign manager Corey Lewandowski, Donald Trump told Anderson Cooper during tonight’s CNN town hall in Milwaukee. “I have fired many people, especially on The Apprentice,” said the former reality-TV star, who is now the GOP frontrunner in the race for the White House. But Lewandowski was defending him from former Breitbart reporter Michelle Fields, whose pen might have been a “little bomb” and who “was grabbing me – twice,” Trump said, explaining “I’m a loyal person. I’m going to be loyal to the country, to Wisconsin.”
“My arm. It’s never been the same, folks,” Trump joked, mocking Fields, as some members of Cooper’s audience chuckled.
4th UPDATE, 5:10 PM: Donald Trump says if his campaign manager Corey Lewandowski had thrown former Breitbart reporter Michelle Fields to the ground when she touched Trump while attempting to ask him a question after a news conference “I would have fired him immediately.”
But, Trump pitched to Fox News Channel’s Sean Hannity in an interview to be broadcast later tonight, all Lewandowski did was “maybe brush…her aside.”
“I was almost at the entrance, in the lobby, walking out briskly. And she, all of a sudden, jumps in! So, she grabbed me and she had something in her hand. I don’t know what it was. It looked like it could have been a pen,” Trump insisted. “But you know, from the standpoint of where we are, who knows what it is. So she grabs me and then he maybe brushed her aside, and we’re going to destroy his life for that? I don’t think so.”
Trump is unhappy that local police did not interview him before charging his campaign manager with misdemeanor battery. “I think this was very unjust, nobody called me, nobody interviewed me, I wasn’t interviewed by the police. I don’t know is this police. I mean they are in a town where I have a very big investment. I’m trying to figure are these Democrats, are these Republicans?”
3rd UPDATE, 1:55 PM: Donald Trump’s campaign has pulled his campaign manager Corey Lewandowski from a scheduled interview with Fox News Channel’s The O’Reilly Factor tonight, the show said. “Corey Lewandowski was booked exclusively for tonight’s show and the campaign subsequently canceled his appearance,” The O’Reilly Factor executive producer Amy Sohnen said this afternoon in a statement.
Not long thereafter, former Breitbart reporter Michelle Fields canceled on Megyn Kelly’s show.
Fox News Channel had announced the bookings on the air this afternoon. The interviews would have been big “gets” with which to counterprogram CNN’s town hall with the three remaining GOP candidates, including Trump, starting at 8 PM ET, which is The O’Reilly Factor’s timeslot.
Not long after the program said Trump’s campaign had un-done the confirmed booking, Trump said he will stick by his campaign manager who he says is being “maligned.”
According to Trump, he has photos showing Fields grabbed him first and that Lewandowski, who turned himself in this morning after being charged with battery was “trying to block her.”
“She’s grabbing me and asked me questions. She’s not even supposed to ask questions,” Trump said at an impromptu news conference held shortly after he landed in Wisconsin, reiterating claims he made earlier today on Twitter. “The press conference Fields was attending at the time, had ended and Trump says he “was leaving, and she runs up, and you can see, there are pictures, where she’s grabbing my arm and I”m trying to get her off.” Trump did not produce the photos he said were in the other room of his private jet.
“It’s a disgrace that something like that could take place. I’m shocked by it and I will stick by people,” Trump said. “When somebody is maligned so unfairly as that, I will stick by them.”
2nd UPDATE, 12:32 PM: Donald Trump, now in all-out Twitter frenzy, says former Breitbart reporter Michelle Fields grabbed him first during the encounter for which his campaign manager was booked on battery charges and wonders, “Can I press charges?”
Warming to his theme, he tweeted:
Meanwhile, Fox News Channel announced on air that it has booked for tonight Trump’s campaign manager Corey Lewandowski, who turned himself in this morning in Florida on the battery charges, and also booked his accuser, former Breitbart reporter Michelle Fields. Guess which “get” will be interviewed by Megyn Kelly at 9 PM ET. And, after they’re done, Trump himself will be interviewed by Sean Hannity on his show at 10 PM ET.
The interviews will do much to take the wind out of CNN’s much anticipated town hall with the three remaining GOP candidates, including Trump who no doubt will get a question or two about Lewandowski’s arrest.
If you guessed The O’Reilly Factor at 8PM ET will present an exclusive interview with Lewandowski and that The Kelly File at 9PM ET will present an exclusive interview with Fields (as well as former Breitbart editor-at-large Ben Shapiro), you are correct.
UPDATE with additional comment from Trump: GOP front-runner Donald Trump is tweeting nothing-to-see-here-folks messages to his followers after his campaign manager Corey Lewandowski turned himself in, in Jupiter, FL, this morning. In this morning’s headline-grabbing campaign development, Lewandowski has been charged with one count of misdemeanor battery, stemming from a March 8 incident with Michelle Fields when she was a reporter for Breitbart covering his campaign.
Fields responded to Trump’s comments, also on Twitter:
Meanwhile, contacted for response to Trump’s earlier tweet that he might bail on tonight’s CNN town hall with the three remaining GOP candidates, CNN said all three men remain confirmed and scheduled to appear.
PREVIOUS, 8:33 AM: GOP front-runner Donald Trump is threatening to pull out of tonight’s CNN town hall with all three of the party’s candidates:
Maybe not coincidentally, the news this morning comes as word gets out of the arrest of Trump’s campaign manager Corey Lewandowski in Florida. He turned himself in and is being charged with one count of misdemeanor battery after a March 8 incident with Michelle Fields when she was a reporter for Breitbart covering his campaign. Fields said she was manhandled by Lewandowski after trying to question the candidate following a press conference.
“Mr. Lewandowski is absolutely innocent of this charge,” Trump said in a statement today. “He will enter a plea of not guilty and looks forward to his day in court. He is completely confident that he will be exonerated.”
For good measure, he tweeted too:
The report from the Jupiter Police Department said Lewandowski was charged for intentionally grabbing and bruising Fields’ arm as she tried to ask Trump a question, causing her to fall back. The threshold for this charge is low: intentional touching without consent. He has a court date of May 4.
Fields, who posted photos of her bruised left arm on social media, filed a criminal complaint with the Jupiter police after the incident. Lewandowski denied touching Fields and tweeted that the journalist is a serial “attention” seeker who has made similar claims in the past.
At a campaign primary victory speech shortly after the incident, Trump made a point of having Lewandowski on stage standing by his side and commended him for doing a “good job” during his speech.