Between an endorsement from Ben Carson and his performance at the latest GOP debate, Republican front-runner Donald Trump has been dealing with another campaign issue altogether — violence. The presidential candidate finally acknowledged one particular incident between a supporter and a protester during Thursday night’s debate, though CNN anchor Jake Tapper didn’t press him on a related subject. That is, the claim made by Breitbart reporter Michelle Fields against Trump’s campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski. According to Fields and another journalist, Lewandowski viciously grabbed and removed her from a press conference after she asked Trump about affirmative action.
Aside from a lengthy statement by Trump spokesperson Hope Hicks, which denied Fields’ allegation and tried to discredit her reputation, neither Trump nor Lewandowski had officially commented on the matter. The campaign manager later tweeted a few articles that were critical of the Breitbart reporter Thursday evening, but nothing direct was said about the accusations… until now.
That’s because Fields appeared on World News Tonight to discuss the incident and the lack of response from the Trump camp. The ABC News report gave Fields broadcast airtime, which increased her story’s circulation and put more pressure on Trump, Lewandowski and everyone else who was involved. To add insult to injury, when asked what she would say to Trump if she had the chance to speak with him, Fields said she’d ask him to “imagine if I was his daughter.” How would the New York real-estate mogul react then?
Reporter who alleges Trump campaign manager assaulted her says: “No one wants to be touched and violated like that” https://t.co/QfveOzC8Hb
— World News Tonight (@WNTonight) March 10, 2016
Despite the debate’s failure to acknowledge Fields’s account of what happened, the ABC News special report lit a fire underneath the heels of the Trump campaign to illicit a more direct response. This was mainly due to the fact that almost every reporter on the scene wouldn’t stop asking both Trump and Lewandowski about it during the post-debate round of questions and interviews.
Trump, who’d never even acknowledged the allegations, opened up to several journalists who asked him point-blank about Fields’s story. He was convinced that she and everyone else who supported her had “made it up.”
A short video of Trump’s comments was subsequently posted on Twitter. He claimed one in his camp heard about it “until the next day,” and because neither the Secret Service nor anyone in his immediate entourage corroborated the story, Trump stuck to his guns.
— Ryan Nobles (@ryanobles) March 11, 2016
Meanwhile, Lewandowski — who spent portions of Thursday evening tweeting links to articles that were critical of Fields and the Washington Post reporter who witnessed the altercation — finally tweeted a direct response to Fields. He called her “totally delusional,” claimed he’d never touched her, and even went so far as to suggest they’d never met before.
On Friday morning, Lewandowski tweeted (and Trump retweeted) a link to a lengthy article published by Breitbart’s Joel B. Pollak citing new video evidence in the matter. Per footage from West Palm Beach NBC affiliate WPTV and a CBS News reporter, Pollak argued that the Washington Post reporter, Ben Terris, may have misidentified the man who grabbed Fields.
The WPTV video is too blurry to tell for sure, as it was sourced from a livestream, but it seems a member of Trump’s Secret Service detail, who mirrored Terris’ description of a man “with short-cropped hair and a suit,” may have violently pulled Fields away from Trump. Lewandowski was nearby when the supposed removal occurred, but said security member was much closer to Fields than he was.
Neither Fields nor Terris has responded to the Pollak article at Breitbart. However, according to a Friday morning report at the IJ Review, the Breitbart employee has filed a police report against Lewandowski in Jupiter, Florida.