Secret Service Agent Roughs Up Journalist Reporting At A Donald Trump Rally

The agency's role is to protect the candidate, not enforce the campaign's press restrictions.

02/29/2016 03:21 pm ET | Updated Mar 01, 2016
Steve Helber/Associated Press
A journalist was roughed up by a Secret Service agent while the press tried to cover protests breaking out during Donald Trump's rally in Radford, Virginia, on Feb. 29.

A Secret Service agent slammed down Time magazine photographer Christopher Morris at a Donald Trump rally Monday in Radford, Virginia, after the journalist tried to cover a protest. 

Morris told CNN's Jim Acosta that he stepped about 18 inches outside the press pen before a guy "grabbed me by the neck and started choking me and slammed me to the ground."

Independent Journal reporter Joe Perticone wrote that the altercation began when an unidentified agent tried preventing Morris from covering protesters. Morris reportedly responded "Fuck you" to the agent's command. 

In addition to barring and ejecting journalists from rallies, Trump's campaign has threatened reporters with blacklisting if they leave the designated press area, or pen, to cover newsworthy events happening off stage, such as protests.

The Secret Service has enforced the campaign's press restrictions, although the agency's role is to protect the candidate, not limit media access. 

'The Secret Service is aware of an incident involving an employee of the Secret Service that occurred earlier today in Radford, VA," an agency spokesman said in a statement. "At this time, our local field office is working with their law enforcement partners to determine the exact circumstances that led up to this incident.  The Secret Service will provide further details as warranted once additional facts surrounding the situation are known."

The Trump campaign said in a statement that it was not aware of all the details regarding the incident between the Time photographer and Secret Service agent, and directed enquiries to law enforcement.  

Some journalists who were at the scene tweeted the disturbing video of Morris being taken down:

After the incident, Morris said he put his hand on the agent's neck in order to demonstrate how he had been choked. Conservative site Breitbart News highlighted an image of this moment to suggest the journalist provoked the agent. 

Morris, who kicked the agent after being pushed to the ground, "expressed remorse for his part in escalating the confrontation," according to a statement from Time magazine.

“We are relieved that Chris is feeling OK," a Time spokesperson said, "and we expect him to be back at work soon."