Click here to watch the footage. Fields comes into frame at :05; she’s the woman in glasses, long brown hair, and a white top. Ben Terris, the Washington Post reporter who accused Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski of grabbing her arm, appears a moment later next to her. He has bushy dark hair and a beard, glasses, and is wearing a red plaid shirt. You’ll see Fields disappear, almost as if she’s falling, out of the right side of the frame at :13. At :15, a Secret Service agent and Lewandowski enter the frame from the right side. The agent has darker hair and a lighter blue shirt; Lewandowski’s hair is closer cropped and his shirt is a darker blue. The agent is looking ahead, towards Trump, but Lewandowski is looking back, towards Fields and Terris. Then, at :18, Terris reappears on the right side of the frame, saying something to Lewandowski.
Fields says she never saw who it was who grabbed her. Terris is the one who claims it was Lewandowski. Joel Pollak wrote a post for Breitbart this morning arguing that the incident certainly happened — again, watch Fields disappear at :13 — but that Terris might have simply mistook who it was who grabbed her arm. Maybe it was the agent, not Lewandowski, whodunnit. They’re both in dark suits, both have short hair, and the agent appears to be walking between Lewandowski and Fields. Okay, but Terris was right there for the whole thing and was confident enough about what he saw to directly accuse Lewandowski in a piece he wrote for the Post yesterday. Given how famously litigious Trump is, that’s a bold move if he isn’t absolutely sure of the truth of his claim. His account:
When Donald Trump descended into the crowd after speaking Tuesday night, the instinct to defend kicked in.
As security parted the masses to give him passage out of the chandelier-lit ballroom, Michelle Fields, a young reporter for Trump-friendly Breitbart News, pressed forward to ask the Republican front-runner a question. I watched as a man with short-cropped hair and a suit grabbed her arm and yanked her out of the way. He was Corey Lewandowski, Trump’s 41-year-old campaign manager.
Fields stumbled. Finger-shaped bruises formed on her arm.
Couldn’t it have been the other guy with short-cropped hair and a suit, though? Nope, says Terris:
“I saw what I saw,” said Terris in a brief chat with this blog. During the whole incident, says Terris, he had his “eyes trained on Corey Lewandowski,” because Terris was there to profile the campaign team with a focus on Lewandowski. Terris took strong issue with Pollak’s assertion that mistaken identity is the “likeliest explanation” based in part on Lewandowski’s denials. “Because he denied it?” asked Terris. “This is Breitbart.”
As I’m writing this post, a new screencap from a different clip is circulating on Twitter. The video hasn’t been posted yet, but:
Fields has now filed a police report, something Trump fans were clamoring for her to do yesterday to prove that she was serious about what happened. Two days ago, the Daily Beast claimed that “sources” had told them that Lewandowski admitted to Breitbart’s Matt Boyle that he had grabbed Fields because “he didn’t recognize her as a Breitbart reporter, instead mistaking her for an adversarial member of the mainstream media.” But, per the latest update to Joel’s post, Boyle said in an e-mail that that’s false.
One wrinkle to all of this: This morning, before Joel’s piece appeared at Breitbart, Breitbart’s management released this statement.
We are in lala land. Breitbart says trump camp admits something happened to Michelle Fields pic.twitter.com/Rthcp4Mxjr
— Hadas Gold (@Hadas_Gold) March 11, 2016
They cited Terris as an eyewitness to support Fields, then challenged his account on the site. Fields herself clearly believes that Terris really did see what he says he saw. Where that leaves us, I’m … not sure. Maybe further video will clear it up one way or another.
Update: And no sooner do I write that than this appears on Twitter. The key bit comes between :09 and :12. It does look like Lewandowski reaches towards Fields with his left arm as they disappear out of the left frame.