Trump campaign manager charged with battery
Police charged Donald Trump’s campaign manager with simple battery Tuesday as a videotaped altercation with a reporter transformed what was another messy campaign sideshow into a criminal court summons. Trump decried the charges.
The Jupiter, Florida, police determined that probable cause existed to charge Corey Lewandowski, who has served as Trump’s most trusted political adviser for much of the past year. Police on Tuesday morning issued Lewandowski a notice to appear before a judge on May 4 for the misdemeanour charge, which carries up to a year in jail.
It’s unclear what impact, if any, the news will have on Trump’s march toward his party’s presidential nomination. Critics cast it as another example of why the brash billionaire would struggle to attract women in a prospective race against Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton.
Speaking to reporters on his airplane in Wisconsin Tuesday, Trump said Lewandowski has been “very seriously maligned,’’ vowing to stand by him.
“I can’t just stand by and watch a man’s life be destroyed,’’ Trump said. “I’m sticking up for a person because I’m not going to let a person’s life be destroyed. No jury, in my opinion, would convict a man and destroy a man’s life over what you witnessed.’’
This injects a court battle into an already contentious Republican primary season just a week before a high-profile primary election in Wisconsin.
The Trump campaign released a statement declaring Lewandowski “absolutely innocent of this charge.’’
“He will enter a plea of not guilty and looks forward to his day in court,’’ said the state- ment. “He is completely confident that he will be exonerated.’’
Police charged Lewandowski after reviewing a surveillance video of the incident, obtained from security at the Trumpowned property. Police determined that the video shows Lewandowski grabbing Michelle Fields, who worked for Breitbart News at the time, as she tried to ask Trump a question during a March 8 campaign event.
Trump cast doubt on her claims, telling reporters that he doubts her claims that she suffered bruises from Lewandowski.
Donald Trump's campaign manager Corey Lewandowski (left) listens as Trump speaks in Palm Beach, Fla.