On Tuesday, one of the long-simmering stories of the 2016 campaign season came to a head. Donald Trump's campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, has been charged for his alleged battery of ex-Breitbart reporter Michelle Fields. It all stems from a run-in Fields described at the billionaire businessman's Trump National Golf Club in Jupiter, Florida back on March 8th, in the aftermath of Trump victories in Hawaii, Michigan, and Mississippi. While following the departing candidate and asking him a question, Fields said she was yanked by the arm and nearly pulled off her feet, grabbed so hard that it left bruises on her arm.
The culprit, to hear her tell it, was Lewandowski. While Fields didn't witness who grabbed her firsthand, Ben Terris of The Washington Post quickly informed her that it had been the Trump campaign manager himself who manhandled her. But there was no clear, decisive proof — at least not at first — and the Trump campaign subsequently engaged in an all-out effort to discredit Fields, accusing her of being an untrustworthy attention-seeker. Lewandowsky called her "totally delusional" and insisted that he'd "never even met" her. Trump himself cast aspersions on her too, saying, "perhaps she made the story up."
But Fields was undeterred, filing a police report. And on Tuesday, that report resulted in criminal charges, complete with a clear, cut-and-dried video showing Lewandowski reaching over and grabbing Fields as she walked alongside Trump.
Whether Lewandowski will be convicted of criminal wrongdoing is now a matter for the legal system. But even taking a step back from the charge he now faces, this shines a bright light on some of the worst tendencies of the Trump campaign, and the media that supports it as well. Fields ultimately resigned from Breitbart, a right-wing and unabashedly pro-Trump website, in the aftermath of the attack, feeling that her employers weren't supporting her sufficiently.
She was accompanied by three colleagues who also resigned in protest: Ben Shapiro, Jordan Schachtel, and Jarrett Stepman. Kurt Bardella, once a spokesperson for the company, also resigned. For its part, the Trump campaign released a statement making it clear that they're not backing down about this, saying among other things that "Mr. Lewandowski is absolutely innocent of this charge," and confirming that he'll be entering a plea of not guilty.
It'll be fascinating to see where this goes next, and whether the Trump campaign is sincerely willing to move forward with Lewandowski for the weeks and months to come with this cloud hanging over things. If you're curious to hear more of Fields' side of the story, especially in light of the new video, I can't recommend her interview with Fox News' Megyn Kelly highly enough. She describes the ensuing backlash from the Trump campaign and its supporters as "the worst experience that I've gone through" besides her father's death.