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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Donald Trump campaign manager will not face prosecution for grabbing reporter

Palm Beach County State Attorney Dave Arongberg at a news conference on April 14

Screen capture

Palm Beach County State Attorney Dave Arongberg at a news conference on April 14



Donald Trump’s campaign manager will not be prosecuted for grabbing a reporter during an event in Palm Beach County, officials said Thursday.

“This office will not be filing charges against Corey Lewandowski for battery,” Palm Beach County State Attorney Dave Aronberg said during a news conference carried live on national cable TV.

Lewandowski charged with misdemeanor battery for the March 8 incident at Trump National Golf Club in which he yanked on the arm of Michelle Fields, then a reporter for the conservative Breitbart News.

Aronberg said he agreed Jupiter police had probable cause for the charge but that evidence was not strong enough to sustain a conviction. “It is unethical for us to file cases when we believe there is not a good faith basis to proceed,” he said.

Prosecutors released new surveillance video they said showed Fields broke a Secret Service ”protective bubble" around Trump and slightly touched the candidate, after which Lewandowski grabbed her arm.

Fields told the prosecutor she did not touch Trump. And Lewandowski insisted, despite video evidence, that he didn’t grab the reporter.

"We're not charging him because he was reacting to what he perceived as a potential threat," assistant prosecutor Adrienne Ellis said.

Arongberg spoke with Fields today and "it was clear to us she was disappointed by the decision" to not prosecute.

On Twitter, Fields said she was asked by the state attorney's office if an apology from Lewandowski would be acceptable. "I said ya but haven't heard back about it," she wrote. Arongberg said an apology has been drafted.

Trump personally reached out to Aronberg a couple weeks ago and urged the prosecutor to "do the right thing." But Arongberg said Thursday that had "no bearing" on his decision.

The campaign 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."

Aronberg, a former Demcratic state legislator, recounted his web of ties to players in the presidential race. He went to Harvard Law with Ted Cruz (they shared a bathroom, he said), knows Marco Rubio and is a supporter of Hillary Clinton.

[Last modified: Thursday, April 14, 2016 3:01pm]


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