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Donald Trump's Campaign Manager Won't Be Charged for Allegedly Grabbing Reporter

A Florida prosecutor said that although video footage shows Corey Lewandowski grabbing reporter Michelle Fields, there was insufficient evidence to prosecute him.

by Olivia Becker
Apr 14 2016, 7:40pm

Photo by Erik S. Lesser/EPA

Donald Trump's embattled campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, will not be prosecuted for battery after he allegedly grabbed a reporter at an event last month, a Florida state prosecutor said on Thursday.

Lewandowski was accused of manhandling reporter Michelle Fields after a press conference on March 8, leaving fingerprint bruises on her arm. Three weeks later, Jupiter, Florida, police ordered him to appear to face arrest for simple battery.

Florida State Attorney David Aronberg said that Lewandowski would not be prosecuted for the battery charge because "a candidate's inner circle staff members [are] given apparent authority to assist in clearing a safe pathway."

Aronberg determined that Lewandowski definitely grabbed Fields' arm — which Lewandowski, the Trump campaign, and the GOP frontrunner himself have repeatedly denied — based on video evidence, but deemed the action to be justified.

Related: Trump's Campaign Manager Faces Simple Battery Charge Over Incident With Reporter

Trump, along with his entire campaign, defended Lewandowski in the aftermath of the controversy and repeatedly argued that Fields lied about the incident.

"That did not happen. It's not on the video and Mr. Lewandowski will be cleared of all charges," Trump's spokesperson Katrina Pierson said.

Trump later changed his account of what happened and suggested that Fields had possibly touched him first.

The Florida prosecutor wrote Thursday that the video footage shows Fields' attempt to interview Trump caused him to "[pull] his arm back and away from her," though he did not specify whether Fields made physical contact with Trump. This led Lewandowski "to legitimately believe Ms. Fields was making unwanted physical contact with Mr. Trump," and grab her arm away, the prosecutor wrote in the statement.

"It should be noted, however," the statement added, "that one agent was positioned directly behind Ms. Fields and appeared to show no concern over her actions."

As a member of Trump's "inner circle," Lewandowski shared "some responsibility for the safety and well-being of the candidate," the prosecutor wrote. Although battery is defined as a crime in Florida as essentially unwanted touching, there was not enough probable cause to charge Lewandowski.

Lewandowski "appreciates the thoughtful consideration and professionalism by the Palm Beach State Attorney, as well as Mr. Trump's loyalty," the Trump campaign said in a statement on Thursday. "The matter is now concluded."

Related: Video Appears to Show Trump Campaign Manager Reaching for Reporter Who Accused Him of Assault

Fields first leveled the allegations against Lewandowski the day after the campaign event, and her account was corroborated by a Washington Post reporter who was also present.

Fields initially wrote in a post on Breitbart.com that Lewandowski grabbed her and "aggressively tried to pull [her] to the ground." Breitbart declined to stand behind Fields' exact accountof the incident, prompting Fields and six of her colleagues to resign in protest. Fields also said she faced death threats and was forced to leave her home fearing for her own safety.

Politico reported earlier this month that the Trump campaign was minimizing Lewandowski's role in light of the controversy, and other complaints from staff about his behavior, a charge that the campaign has denied.

Follow Olivia Becker on Twitter: @oliviaLbecker