Corey Lewandowski, the high-profile campaign manager of Donald Trump's presidential campaign, turned himself in to authorities Tuesday morning in Florida after being charged with simple battery for his treatment of former Breitbart News reporter Michelle Fields earlier this month.
A statement from Trump's campaign after the news broke insisted Lewandowski was "absolutely innocent" of the charges and would be "exonerated."
BREAKING - Statement from Trump campaign on Lewandowski FL assault charge. He will plead not guilty pic.twitter.com/nMcDsTX7Pd
— John Santucci (@JTSantucci) March 29, 2016
An hour later, Trump fired off a tweet of his own.
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
Lewandowski's guilt or innocence is, obviously, up to the courts. But, here's what we know without a shadow of a doubt: Lewandowski lied about his interaction (or lack thereof) with Fields. Here's what he tweeted shortly after midnight on March 11 (Fields went to the Jupiter police that same day, according to the police report, which you can see in full at the bottom of this post):
@MichelleFields you are totally delusional. I never touched you. As a matter of fact, I have never even met you.
— Corey Lewandowski (@CLewandowski_) March 11, 2016
On Tuesday morning, new footage of the incident, which occurred after a Trump event at the Trump National Golf Course on March 8, shows that Lewandowski was not telling the truth. Here's that video:
That's Lewandowski in the closely-cropped hair and with the pin on his left lapel quite clearly grabbing Fields and pulling her away from Trump. Is it possible he "has never met her" given that? I guess, in the sense that they may never have been formally introduced. Is it possible that he "never touched" her? No. Not even a little.
So, what we know is that the man tasked with electing Donald Trump president a) lied about his interaction with Fields and b) has been charged with simple battery due to his role in that incident.
Under normal -- or even semi-normal -- circumstances, Lewandowski would be looking for a job before the end of today. My guess is that Trump not only won't fire Lewandowski, and he might even continue to ardently defend him, despite it now being totally clear that he lied about his involvement with Fields.
Here's all you need to know about how Trump has reacted to this accusation this far: After a week consumed by the Fields allegations, Trump made sure Lewandowski was onstage -- and directly to his left -- during his victory speech on March 15 at his Mar-a-Lago resort. (The picture at the top of this post comes from that event.) The message to anyone paying even a little bit of attention? Corey's my guy -- and always will be.
Trump undoubtedly takes this loyalty as a point of pride and a sign of his unwillingness to bow to the false gods of political correctness. But, that ignores the basic facts here:
- Lewandowski grabbed Fields to keep her away from Trump, which, whether it's illegal or not, isn't the right thing to do.
- He lied about doing it.
Loyalty is one thing. Standing by someone who, knowing what he had done, not only lied but also disparaged Fields (and WaPo's own Ben Terris who witnessed the whole thing) publicly is something else entirely.
And, Lewandowski is is no drone from Sector 7G in Trump's campaign. He is the top strategist and staff leader. Leaving him in place after today's revelations suggests that Trump condones not only Lewandowski's initial actions but also his attempt to deceive people about them.
Here's the full police report: