Corey Lewandowski, Donald Trump‘s campaign manager, has been charged with battery for grabbing a former Breitbart News reporter during a rally in Florida.
Police in Jupiter, Florida, announced the charge of simple battery on Tuesday morning and released surveillance footage that clearly showed Lewandowski grabbing the reporter, Michelle Fields.
Despite the fact that the video clearly shows the incident, the Trump campaign denied that Lewandowski had struck Fields, saying in a statement that he was “absolutely innocent of this charge.”
BREAKING – Statement from Trump campaign on Lewandowski FL assault charge. He will plead not guilty pic.twitter.com/nMcDsTX7Pd— John Santucci (@Santucci) March 29, 2016
Trump personally defended Lewandowski a few hours later, tweeting, “Look at tapes—nothing there!”
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
Fields, who left Breitbart after the conservative blog’s tepid response to the incident, filed a criminal complaint against Lewandowski for grabbing her and pushing her to the ground as she asked Trump a question at the rally.
Trump initially said that Fields might have “made up the story,” despite video evidence and eyewitness reports to the contrary. Fields posted a picture of the bruise that she received from the incident.
While Jupiter police did not continuously detain Lewandowski, they issued him a “notice to appear” in court to answer the battery charge, which is formally considered an arrest.
Update 11:47am CT, March 29: Added Trump tweet.
Update 2:40pm CT, March 29: According to Daily Mail U.S. Politics Editor David Martosko, a member of Trump’s Secret Service detail said Fields repeatedly touched Trump prior to Lewandowski grabbing her.
While it is unclear from the video released by Jupiter police whether this happened, Trump appeared to confirm the reported Secret Service member’s statement and questioned whether he could press charges against Fields.
Victory press conference was over.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 29, 2016
Why is she allowed to grab me and shout questions? Can I press charges? pic.twitter.com/qbW2RjkINX
Why is this reporter touching me as I leave news conference? What is in her hand?? pic.twitter.com/HQB8dl0fhn— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 29, 2016
Correction: While Lewandowski has not been continuously detained, a “notice to appear” technically constitutes an arrest.