Corey Lewandowski won’t face battery charges for his alleged mishandling of a reporter at a Florida rally, but the damage the controversial campaign manager has caused to Donald Trump’s campaign may already be done.
Lewandowski had faced allegations that he forcefully grabbed reporter Michelle Fields, who was trying to ask questions to Trump as a rally ended in Florida. Lewandowski initially denied any knowledge of the incident, calling Fields “delusional” for her accusations that she was assaulted, but a video later emerged showing Lewandowski grasping her by the arm and pulling her back away from Trump.
Now, a new and longer video paints an even more full picture of the story. Palm Beach County State Attorney David Aronberg released the new video showing Fields being warned by Trump’s security detail to remain back from the Republican candidate, but she later moved out of the designated area and tried to question him.
Aronberg announced on Thursday that Corey Lewandowski would not face battery charges, and gave reporters more details about how the incident unfolded. He said video showed her being given clear instructions to stay back from Trump, but disobeying them.
“After initially complying with the directive, Ms. Fields returned to the pathway area and walked directly alongside Mr. Trump attempting to ask questions of him,” he said (via Real Clear Politics). “It appears based on the freeze frames from the video recording and independent photograph taken by a Washington Post photographer that Ms. Fields brushed or touched Mr. Trump’s arm. He then appears to react to ms. fields by pulling his arm back and away from her. At which time Mr. Lewandowski reached forward and grabbed Ms. Fields’s arm pulling her away from Mr. Trump.”
Prosecutors also received a sworn affidavit from a Secret Service agent that Lewandowski acted appropriately, TMZ reported.
Though the revelations this week appeared to vindicate Lewandowski, his brash demeanor and leadership missteps may have already cost Donald Trump’s campaign. Politico reported last month that Trump had been quietly reducing Lewandowski’s role amid the allegations of his poor treatment of the press and alleged political inexperience. These moves included giving up hiring power to a lower-ranking staffer and overruling Lewandowski’s decisions about issuing press credentials.
“The shift is, in part, a natural outgrowth of the campaign’s maturation. But according to sources close to the campaign, it’s also at least partly the result of long-simmering concerns among some members of Trump’s inner circle about Lewandowski’s lack of national experience, his perceived unwillingness to challenge Trump and his brash temperament.”
Trump also named Michael Glassner as deputy campaign manager, which some believe could be a succession plan if Lewandowski were to be fired.
“I’m not saying Corey’s going to be fired or anything because I don’t think he’s going to be, at least not at this juncture,” said a person involved in Trump’s campaign. “But Mr. Trump’s listening to other people now. The crew’s expanding. The inner circle is not what it used to be.”
The hits continued for Corey Lewandowski after Trump reduced his role. The Guardian published a long piece outlining his controversial behavior, including rough treatment of the press.
“Not least, it fits a pattern of low-level bullying-cum-violence that has become a feature of Trump rallies. The Red Bull-chugging Lewandowski has himself been reported as having physically manhandled protesters at campaign events, as well as showing a disdain for reporters and their public function that borders on thuggery. After Politico published a piece raising concerns about his conduct, the news site found one of its named reporters turned away at the door.”
Corey Lewandowski and Donald Trump’s campaign structure has also come under greater scrutiny amid reports that they have been outmaneuvered by Ted Cruz in securing delegates. Cruz swept the state convention in Colorado, winning all of the state’s delegates while Trump’s campaign struggled to communicate with their voters on which delegates to support.
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