The Trump campaign is now denying an incident took place in which a Breitbart News reporter, Michelle Fields, was yanked nearly to the ground by Trump’s campaign manager. Fields wrote her own account of the incident on Breitbart News Thursday morning:
Trump acknowledged the question, but before he could answer I was jolted backwards. Someone had grabbed me tightly by the arm and yanked me down. I almost fell to the ground, but was able to maintain my balance. Nonetheless, I was shaken.
The Washington Post’s Ben Terris immediately remarked that it was Trump’s campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, who aggressively tried to pull me to the ground. I quickly turned around and saw Lewandowski and Trump exiting the building together. No apology. No explanation for why he did this.
Trump’s campaign spokesman is now denying the incident happened at all in a statement given to ABC News:
“The accusation, which has only been made in the media and never addressed directly with the campaign, is entirely false,” Trump campaign press secretary Hope Hicks said in a statement. “As one of dozens of individuals present as Mr. Trump exited the press conference I did not witness any encounter. In addition to our staff, which had no knowledge of said situation, not a single camera or reporter of more than 100 in attendance captured the alleged incident.”
In response to this claim, Michelle Fields tweeted this photo of a bruise she got during the incident directly to Lewandowski, along with the sarcastic suggestion that it appeared by magic:
— Michelle Fields (@MichelleFields) March 10, 2016
About 30 minutes later, Lewandowski tweeted this, suggesting Fields was “attention seeking.”
Daily Caller reporter assaulted by NYPD during ‘Occupy’ protests — professional reporting or attention seeking? https://t.co/FqOQQMvNcy
— Corey R. Lewandowski (@CLewandowski_) March 10, 2016
The incident Lewandowski’s link refers to happened at an Occupy march in New York back in 2011. It was caught on video and Fields discussed it at length in this 2011 interview with C-Span. Here is a screen grab from the C-Span interview showing Fields being helped off the ground:
Keep in mind, Fields is not the only one claiming the incident at the Trump event happened. Ben Terris of the Washington Post published his own account confirming what happened to Fields:
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 GOP 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.
“I’m just a little spooked,” she said, a tear streaming down her face. “No one has grabbed me like that before.”
She took my arm and squeezed it hard. “I don’t even want to do it as hard as he did,” she said, “because it would hurt.”
Breitbart News President Larry Solov (full disclosure: my former employer) has now responded to the Trump campaign, defending Fields and once again calling on Lewandowski to apologize:
The Washington Post just published a very detailed, first-hand account from their senior reporter Ben Terris who is familiar with the campaign, the personalities involved, and was an eyewitness to the incident. We are disappointed in the campaign’s response, in particular their effort to demean Michelle’s previous reporting. Michelle Fields is an intrepid reporter who has covered tough and dangerous stories. We stand behind her reporting, her techniques, and call again on Corey Lewandowski to apologize.
The Trump campaign’s position does not seem very tenable and yet Lewandowski is obviously not prepared to apologize. Even if he did apologize for the rough grab, doesn’t the whole campaign owe Fields an apology now for attacking her after the fact?
Update: Hadas Gold at Politico has posted the transcript of an audio tape from the Tuesday event. Just a portion:
Terris: “You OK?”
Fields: “Holy sh*t.”
Terris: “Yea he just threw you down.”
Read the whole transcript at Politico.