Florida officials have decided not to prosecute Donald Trump's campaign manager Corey Lewandowski for grabbing and yanking a reporter away from the candidate at a press conference last month, Palm Beach County State Attorney Dave Aronberg announced Thursday afternoon.

Aronberg, a Democrat, says that his office reviewed the facts of the March 8 incident at Trump's golf club in Jupiter, Fla., and concluded that the reporter — Michelle Fields, who then worked for Breitbart News — infiltrated a protective bubble around the presidential candidate and "brushed or touched Mr. Trump's arm," prompting the candidate to "pull his arm back and away from her." Although a nearby Secret Service agent did not feel the need to distance Fields from Trump, campaign manager Corey Lewandowski "grabbed Ms. Fields' arm, pulling her away from Mr. Trump," Aronberg said. Lewandowski was charged with one misdemeanor count of battery on March 29.

"It's our belief that, what we saw in the video, that any contact was incidental," Aronberg said, explaining that prosecuting someone for simple battery would require "intentional and unwanted touching." Although there was probable cause for police to charge Lewandowski, Aronberg said prosecutors did not have the grounds to further pursue the case.

AD
AD

Aronberg noted that Lewandowski had originally denied that he had touched Fields, even though video from Trump's surveillance cameras clearly shows contact between the two. He said he has encouraged Lewandowski to apologize for what happened, although that was not a condition of the case being dropped, and said that Lewandowski's attorney had shown him a draft of an apology. The state's attorney noted that had the campaign manager apologized at the time of the incident, authorities might not have had to get involved.

"I think that had an apology been given at the beginning of all this, we could have avoided the whole criminal justice process for this matter," Aronberg said.

The Trump campaign released a statement Thursday afternoon that said: "Corey Lewandowski is gratified by the decision to drop the misdemeanor charge and appreciates the thoughtful consideration and professionalism by the Palm Beach State Attorney and his staff who carefully reviewed this matter, as well as Mr. Trump’s loyalty and the support of his colleagues and family during this time. The matter is now concluded."

AD
AD

Fields has yet to respond to a request for comment. On Twitter on Wednesday night, she expressed frustration that the state's attorney's office leaked the news to the media before informing her. At that point, she had yet to receive an apology.

Throughout this process, Trump has stood by his campaign manager and aggressively questioned Fields's version of the events and motives. Aronberg said that Trump himself reached out to the prosecutors to share his version of what happened in a conference call a "couple weeks ago." Prosecutors did not interview Lewandowski, although they did communicate with his attorney.

"[Trump] gave his version of the facts and his opinion of the case and then urged us to do the right thing," Aronberg said. "The version of the facts was that she touched him and, pretty much, that's it. That she touched him, and he did not think that Mr. Lewandowski should be prosecuted for it."

During the news conference, a reporter asked Aronberg if Trump had in any way threatened him.

"I don't remember any such threat," Aronberg said. "I can tell you that the conversation we had with Mr. Trump had no bearing upon our final decision on this case. ... What did have the sole bearing on our decision were the facts of this case and the law."

AD
AD