I remember the day after Fields accused Lewandowski of grabbing her arm the refrain from Trump fans on Twitter was “Prove it! File a police report or you’re lying.” So she filed a police report. Then the refrain was “It was the other guy standing behind Trump, not Lewandowski!” Then new video came out showing, no, it was Lewandowski. Then the refrain was “He barely touched her. No one could seriously believe this is battery.” So now he’s been charged with battery.
There’ll be a new refrain today. Never forget: You’ll never talk someone out of believing something they really want to believe.
Corey Lewandowski, Donald Trump campaign manager, was charged this morning with misdemeanor battery after allegations of forcefully grabbing a reporter at a Jupiter news conference, town police confirmed this morning…
Lewandowski turned himself in to Jupiter police just after 8 a.m., accoriding to a police report…
Fields, who Tweeted photos of bruises on her arm she said resulted from the battery, resigned Breitbart less than a week after the incident. She cited Breitbart’s refusal to stand behind her amid the allegations as her reason for leaving.
This, of course, is how Lewandowski greeted Fields’s accusation before launching into a series of tweets aimed at discrediting her:
@MichelleFields you are totally delusional. I never touched you. As a matter of fact, I have never even met you.
— Corey R. Lewandowski (@CLewandowski_) March 11, 2016
Now watch the overhead video embedded below proving that it was Lewandowski who grabbed her. (That’s him standing behind Trump to Trump’s left as the video starts.) The bearded guy in the glasses and checkered shirt next to Lewandowski and Fields is Washington Post reporter Ben Terris, who was also accused of lying wholesale about what happened. No way, claimed Terris, I was three feet away and saw the whole thing play out right in front of me. I’d guesstimate it was more like two feet, but yeah — he really was right there watching the whole thing. Meanwhile, for grabbing a reporter, then refusing to apologize for it, then lying about it, then attacking her on Twitter, Lewandowski was given pride of place next to Trump onstage at his victory speech on Super Tuesday and told “Good job, Corey.” And why not? After all, Trump himself suggested Fields was lying too. Ted Cruz, you may recall, fired his campaign spokesman Rick Tyler over nothing worse than an inaccurate Facebook post accusing Marco Rubio of something after Tyler had already apologized. If anything, I’d guess Lewandowski’s now in line for a promotion.
Team Trump issued a statement today claiming Lewandowski’s “totally innocent” of the charge but it’s hard to see how given the video. It’s a misdemeanor; presumably he’ll plead and be given community service. And all he had to do to short-circuit the whole ordeal was apologize — honest mistake, was merely trying to clear some room for Trump, didn’t mean to leave any bruises. But he couldn’t, because “Trump” means never having to say you’re sorry. Says Ross Douthat, “Team Trump’s handling of the Fields incident is basically a blueprint for turning a minor airspace issue w/China into thermonuclear war.” He’s half-joking, but only half. When your entire political identity is based on asserting dominance, every challenge is an invitation to escalate. You can see how smart that was here.
Exit question: Why did Lewandowski tweet out a link this morning to a highly critical WaPo op-ed titled, “Rush Limbaugh’s blessing of Trump is killing conservatism”? Was it the Rush-blessing-Trump part that excited him, or the killing-conservatism part?
Update: Every challenge is an invitation to escalate.
Wow, Corey Lewandowski, my campaign manager and a very decent man, was just charged with assaulting a reporter. Look at tapes-nothing there!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 29, 2016
Why aren't people looking at this reporters earliest statement as to what happened, that is before she found out the episode was on tape?
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 29, 2016
Update: Team Cruz weighs in to remind people that the fish rots from the head down.
“Unfortunately, this abusive behavior seems to be part of the culture of the Trump campaign,” said Alice Stewart, Cruz campaign spokeswoman, in an email. “Personal attacks, verbal attacks, and now physical attacks have no place in politics or anywhere else in our society.”
Update: Ah, so here’s the new defense:
It’s mighty interesting that neither Lewandowski nor Trump has claimed in the weeks since this happened that Fields was the one getting physical with Trump. The spin until now has been that she’s a liar and a crank who made the whole thing up, not that Corey needed to ride to the rescue to protect his boss. In fact, Trump said a few weeks ago that he’d spoken to the Secret Service about the incident and they — supposedly — told him that nothing happened, when obviously it did. Either he was lying about that or they were lying to him. It’s also interesting that no claim that Fields touched Trump turned up in Jupiter PD’s investigation of the incident. In any case, free advice: If a cop tells someone not to touch someone else, it doesn’t give you the legal right to step past the cop and pull the first person away from the second. Do that and you’re apt to find yourself facing a battery charge.
Update: Annnnd of course now Trump suddenly claims that Fields touched him by tweeting a screencap from the video below in which she’s obviously not touching him. We’re one week away from a key state trying to decide between this guy and Ted Cruz as the Republican nominee.