POLITICS
03/29/2016 11:37 am ET | Updated Mar 29, 2016

Trump Campaign Manager Charged With Battery Of Reporter He Called ‘Delusional'

Corey Lewandowski turned himself in to police early Tuesday.

Donald Trump's campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, was charged with battery Tuesday following an incident in which he allegedly grabbed a reporter, Michelle Fields, at a campaign event earlier this month. 

Lewandowski turned himself in to police Tuesday morning in Jupiter, Florida, where he was charged with misdemeanor battery. 

Trump and Lewandowski have repeatedly denied that the campaign manager grabbed Fields, and Lewandowski has called Fields "delusional."

Fields released a photo of her arm with a series of finger-shaped bruises. And newly released video footage appears to show Lewandowski reaching over and roughly grabbing Fields at the Jupiter event, nearly throwing her off balance.

The video suggests that Lewandowski was lying when he attacked Fields' credibility and accused her of seeking attention. This is a tactic Trump himself has popularized, through vicious and personal attacks on journalists like Megyn Kelly and Jorge Ramos.

Fields resigned from Breitbart News shortly after the incident, because she said the news outlet failed to publicly stand by her. 

Lewandowski will be represented by two defense lawyers. One of them is Kendall Coffey, a former U.S. attorney who was forced to resign that post in 1996 after he was accused of biting a stripper in Miami.

At various points during this campaign cycle, Trump has offered to pay the legal bills of supporters who attack protesters, but it was unclear Tuesday whether he will pay to defend Lewandowski against the battery charges. The Huffington Post asked a spokeswoman for Trump whether the billionaire is footing his campaign manager's legal bills. The spokeswoman did not immediately respond.

Despite being best known for saying "you're fired" on TV, Trump has so far refused to fire Lewandowski in real life -- even as the aide faces battery charges. Trump's inaction when it comes to his own staff underscores the disconnect between the candidate's fictional persona on "The Apprentice," and his real-life leadership skills.

 

Appearing on CNN Tuesday afternoon, Trump campaign spokeswoman Katrina Pierson reiterated the campaign's support for its manager. Even if Lewandowski were convicted of battery in the March 8 altercation, she said, he would still have a job on the Trump team.

"Mr. Lewandowski is an integral part of the team. The camp wholeheartedly supports him and will see him through the ordeal," she said. 

Pierson said Lewandowski "will plead not guilty and we will have to let the process play out," but she assured CNN that Trump's campaign manager would prevail. "This is absurd, it's ridiculous and it will be beat," Pierson said.

Trump tweeted on Tuesday that Lewandowski was "a very decent man" and that there's "nothing" on the tape that shows him physically confronting Fields, a claim that the video itself appears to contradict.

A spokeswoman for Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), one of Trump's rivals for the GOP presidential nomination, responded to the charges shortly after noon, telling reporters: "This is what we have come to expect from the Trump team. Unfortunately, this abusive behavior seems to be part of the culture of the Trump campaign."

Tuesday's charges represent the latest chapter in a presidential campaign that has been marked by unprecedented incidents of violence, including attacks against reporters and protesters.

This article has been updated with information from Katrina Pierson's appearance on CNN. 

Editor's note: Donald Trump regularly incites political violence and is a serial liar, rampant xenophoberacistmisogynist and birther who has repeatedly pledged to ban all Muslims -- 1.6 billion members of an entire religion -- from entering the U.S. 

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