Recording supports reporter who accused Trump’s campaign manager of assault

This is not likely to end well for the Trump campaign, if only because it alienates a key media ally and feeds a theme that Trump’s enemies already are exploiting to damage his candidacy.  Breitbart reporter Michelle Fields has claimed that she was grabbed and nearly pushed to the ground by Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski when attempting to ask a question of the candidate following his Tuesday night Jupiter, Florida press conference.

She writes:

I wasn’t called upon to ask a question during the televised press conference, but afterwards Trump wandered around, stopping at every reporter to take their questions. When he approached me, I asked him about his view on an aspect of affirmative action. 

Trump acknowledged the question, but before he could answer I was jolted backwards. Someone had grabbed me tightly by the arm and yanked me down. I almost fell to the ground, but was able to maintain my balance. Nonetheless, I was shaken. 

The Washington Post’s Ben Terris immediately remarked that it was Trump’s campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, who aggressively tried to pull me to the ground. I quickly turned around and saw Lewandowski and Trump exiting the building together. No apology. No explanation for why he did this.  

Even if Trump was done taking questions, Lewandowski would be out of line. Campaign managers aren’t supposed to try to forcefully throw reporters to the ground, no matter the circumstance. But what made this especially jarring is that there was no hint Trump was done taking questions. No one was pushing him to get away. He seemed to have been happily answering queries from my fellow reporters just a moment before.  

Lewandowski adamantly denies it, impugning Fields:

 

 

 

And Trump supports him:

"Perhaps she made the story up. I think that's what happened," he said of Tuesday night's alleged incident.

"I believe I was in the middle of a lot of Secret Service agents, and they all said that they never saw anything," Trump said. "And these are very honorable guys, they're fantastic people, and there were a lot of them and nobody saw anything, and to the best of my knowledge there's no pictures."

However, an audio recording of the incident supports Fields and Terris.  Politico obtained a copy (audio here):

Din of people talking, clanking of glasses, snippets of conversation, reporters telling one another to 'move up a little', greeting each other, saying 'good to see you' saying 'OK good quote then', then clearly action picks up as cameras start clicking.

Fields: “Mr. Trump, you went after the late Scalia for affirmative action, do you -- are you still against affirmative action?"

Voice (allegedly Corey Lewandowski): “Excuse me, thank you.”

A few moments later (noise of the room can be heard)...

Terris: “You OK?"

Fields: “Holy s***."

Terris: “Yea he just threw you down."

Fields: “I can’t believe he just did that that was so hard. Was that Corey?"

Terris: “Yeah, like, what threat were you?"

Fields: "That was insane. You should have felt how hard he grabbed me. That's insane. I’ve never had anyone do that to me from a campaign."

Terris: “Can I put that in my story?"

Fields: “Yeah, go for it — that was really awful. That’s so unprofessional.”

Terris: “He really just almost threw you down on the ground."

Fields: “He literally went like this and was grabbing me down. "I don’t even want to do what he just did to me. Oh my God, that really spooked me that someone would do that."

Terris: “What threat were you?"

Fields: “Nothing. I was asking about affirmative action."

Terris: “And he probably knows you, right?"

Fields: “Yeah, I don’t understand. That looks horrible. You’re going after a Breitbart reporter, the people who are nicest to you?"

Terris: “I know, I’m going to put it in my story."

The two stop talking. Din/noise of people talking, glasses clinking continue through end of the recording.

Terris has also published his own account of the incident in the Washington Post:

As security parted the masses to give him passage out of the chandelier-lit ballroom, Michelle Fields, a young reporter for Trump-friendly Breitbart News, pressed forward to ask the GOP front-runner a question. I watched as a man with short-cropped hair and a suit grabbed her arm and yanked her out of the way. He was Corey Lewandowski, Trump’s 41-year-old campaign manager. Fields stumbled. Finger-shaped bruises formed on her arm. “I’m just a little spooked,” she said, a tear streaming down her face. “No one has grabbed me like that before.”

The oddest aspect of all of this is that Breitbart has been among the most supportive news outlets toward the Trump candidacy.  No longer is that likely to continue.

What could be going on here?

If Lewandowski and Trump are correct, that would require Fields and Terris being involved in a conspiracy to harm the Trump campaign,  or else both of them mistaking the identity of Lewandowski.  Neither possibility seems very likely at all.

Much more likely to me would be a scenario where Lewandowski, acting in the moment under stress, inadvertently used more force than required in handling a crowd.

Breitbart’s Jamie Weinstein has suggested both parties take a lie detector test:

 

I am sure Trump hopes this will die down and go away.  But that is unlikely, if only because the assault on a protester at a Trump rally is now a media favorite in their efforts to portray Trump as the latest incarnation of Adolf Hitler.

And face it: a damsel in distress, particularly an attractive one, is irresistible to the media.

This is not likely to end well for the Trump campaign, if only because it alienates a key media ally and feeds a theme that Trump’s enemies already are exploiting to damage his candidacy.  Breitbart reporter Michelle Fields has claimed that she was grabbed and nearly pushed to the ground by Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski when attempting to ask a question of the candidate following his Tuesday night Jupiter, Florida press conference.

She writes:

I wasn’t called upon to ask a question during the televised press conference, but afterwards Trump wandered around, stopping at every reporter to take their questions. When he approached me, I asked him about his view on an aspect of affirmative action. 

Trump acknowledged the question, but before he could answer I was jolted backwards. Someone had grabbed me tightly by the arm and yanked me down. I almost fell to the ground, but was able to maintain my balance. Nonetheless, I was shaken. 

The Washington Post’s Ben Terris immediately remarked that it was Trump’s campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, who aggressively tried to pull me to the ground. I quickly turned around and saw Lewandowski and Trump exiting the building together. No apology. No explanation for why he did this.  

Even if Trump was done taking questions, Lewandowski would be out of line. Campaign managers aren’t supposed to try to forcefully throw reporters to the ground, no matter the circumstance. But what made this especially jarring is that there was no hint Trump was done taking questions. No one was pushing him to get away. He seemed to have been happily answering queries from my fellow reporters just a moment before.  

Lewandowski adamantly denies it, impugning Fields:

 

 

 

And Trump supports him:

"Perhaps she made the story up. I think that's what happened," he said of Tuesday night's alleged incident.

"I believe I was in the middle of a lot of Secret Service agents, and they all said that they never saw anything," Trump said. "And these are very honorable guys, they're fantastic people, and there were a lot of them and nobody saw anything, and to the best of my knowledge there's no pictures."

However, an audio recording of the incident supports Fields and Terris.  Politico obtained a copy (audio here):

Din of people talking, clanking of glasses, snippets of conversation, reporters telling one another to 'move up a little', greeting each other, saying 'good to see you' saying 'OK good quote then', then clearly action picks up as cameras start clicking.

Fields: “Mr. Trump, you went after the late Scalia for affirmative action, do you -- are you still against affirmative action?"

Voice (allegedly Corey Lewandowski): “Excuse me, thank you.”

A few moments later (noise of the room can be heard)...

Terris: “You OK?"

Fields: “Holy s***."

Terris: “Yea he just threw you down."

Fields: “I can’t believe he just did that that was so hard. Was that Corey?"

Terris: “Yeah, like, what threat were you?"

Fields: "That was insane. You should have felt how hard he grabbed me. That's insane. I’ve never had anyone do that to me from a campaign."

Terris: “Can I put that in my story?"

Fields: “Yeah, go for it — that was really awful. That’s so unprofessional.”

Terris: “He really just almost threw you down on the ground."

Fields: “He literally went like this and was grabbing me down. "I don’t even want to do what he just did to me. Oh my God, that really spooked me that someone would do that."

Terris: “What threat were you?"

Fields: “Nothing. I was asking about affirmative action."

Terris: “And he probably knows you, right?"

Fields: “Yeah, I don’t understand. That looks horrible. You’re going after a Breitbart reporter, the people who are nicest to you?"

Terris: “I know, I’m going to put it in my story."

The two stop talking. Din/noise of people talking, glasses clinking continue through end of the recording.

Terris has also published his own account of the incident in the Washington Post:

As security parted the masses to give him passage out of the chandelier-lit ballroom, Michelle Fields, a young reporter for Trump-friendly Breitbart News, pressed forward to ask the GOP front-runner a question. I watched as a man with short-cropped hair and a suit grabbed her arm and yanked her out of the way. He was Corey Lewandowski, Trump’s 41-year-old campaign manager. Fields stumbled. Finger-shaped bruises formed on her arm. “I’m just a little spooked,” she said, a tear streaming down her face. “No one has grabbed me like that before.”

The oddest aspect of all of this is that Breitbart has been among the most supportive news outlets toward the Trump candidacy.  No longer is that likely to continue.

What could be going on here?

If Lewandowski and Trump are correct, that would require Fields and Terris being involved in a conspiracy to harm the Trump campaign,  or else both of them mistaking the identity of Lewandowski.  Neither possibility seems very likely at all.

Much more likely to me would be a scenario where Lewandowski, acting in the moment under stress, inadvertently used more force than required in handling a crowd.

Breitbart’s Jamie Weinstein has suggested both parties take a lie detector test:

 

I am sure Trump hopes this will die down and go away.  But that is unlikely, if only because the assault on a protester at a Trump rally is now a media favorite in their efforts to portray Trump as the latest incarnation of Adolf Hitler.

And face it: a damsel in distress, particularly an attractive one, is irresistible to the media.