A reporter from Breitbart News released a photo Thursday of her bruised arm, saying Donald Trump’s campaign manager “grabbed me tightly… and yanked me down” at a press conference in Florida earlier this week.
Michelle Fields, who previously worked as video reporter for The Daily Caller, posted the photo on social media. This came after Trump’s campaign released a statement denying campaign manager Corey Lewandowski’s involvement even though a reporter from the Washington Post says he witnessed it.
“I guess these just magically appeared on me…So weird,” Fields wrote on Twitter, tagging both Lewandowski and Trump’s accounts.
— Michelle Fields (@MichelleFields) March 10, 2016
On Tuesday evening, Daily Caller senior editor Jamie Weinstein first drew attention to the incident, writing: “Trump always surrounds himself w thugs. Tonight thug Corey Lewandowski tried to pull my gf @MichelleFields to ground when she asked tough q.”
Trump always surrounds himself w thugs. Tonight thug Corey Lewandowski tried to pull my gf @MichelleFields to ground when she asked tough q
— Jamie Weinstein (@Jamie_Weinstein) March 9, 2016
Larry Solov, the Breitbart News CEO and president, responded on Wednesday by saying: “It’s obviously unacceptable that someone crossed a line and made physical contact with our reporter. What Michelle has told us directly is that someone ‘grabbed her arm’ and while she did not see who it was, Ben Terris of the Washington Post told her that it was Corey Lewandowski. If that’s the case, Corey owes Michelle an immediate apology.”
Ben Shapiro, a Breitbart editor-at-large, took it farther. “Lewandowski should be fired. This is not about Michelle being ‘part of the story.’ It’s about bad people tolerating thuggery.”
Lewandowski should be fired. This is not about Michelle being “part of the story.” It’s about bad people tolerating thuggery.
— Ben Shapiro (@benshapiro) March 10, 2016
On Thursday, Fields wrote a piece at Breitbart headlined: “Michelle Fields: In Her Own Words.” After Trump’s press conference at his golf club in Jupiter, Florida, Fields said she attempted to ask him a question on affirmation action.
“Trump acknowledged the question, but before he could answer I was jolted backwards,” Fields wrote. “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.”
Fields said it was reporter Ben Terris of The Washington Post who told her it was Trump’s campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, who had grabbed her.
In a Washington Post story posted Thursday, Terris recalled how he “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.”
“I’m just a little spooked,” a teary-eyed Fields told Terris, according to his story. “No one has grabbed me like that before.”
In a Daily Beast piece published Thursday, reporter Lloyd Grove, citing sources, reported that Lewandowski had discussed the encounter with Breitbart editor Matt Boyle, acknowledging the run-in with Fields.
“Lewandowski’s explanation to Boyle,” Grove wrote, “said these sources, was that he and Fields had never met before and that he didn’t recognize her as a Breitbart reporter, instead mistaking her for an adversarial member of the mainstream media.”
But on Thursday, in a statement released to ABC News, Trump’s campaign publicly denied Lewandowski’s involvement.
NEW: Trump campaign spokesperson Hope Hicks responds to allegations campaign manager assaulted Breitbart reporter: pic.twitter.com/LHRMKXzy3K
— ABC News Politics (@ABCPolitics) March 10, 2016
“The accusation, which has only been made in the media and never addressed directly with the campaign, is entirely false,” said Trump campaign spokeswoman Hope Hicks.
Video of the encounter has not yet surfaced, something Hicks referenced. “In addition to our staff, which had no knowledge of said situation, not a single camera or reporter of more than 100 in attendance captured the alleged incident.”
Hicks added: “There are often large crowds aggressively seeking access to Mr. Trump and our staff would never do anything to harm another individual, while at the same time understanding that Mr. Trump and his personal space should never be invaded.”
The Trump campaign is also taking personal swipes at Fields, accusing her in the statement of just wanting attention. Lewandowski also posted several tweets on Thursday questioning Fields’ credibility.
“We leave to others whether this [is] part of a larger pattern of exaggerating incidents, but on multiple occasions she has become part of the news story as opposed to reporting it,” Hicks wrote. “Recall she also claimed to have been beaten by a New York City Police officer with a baton.”
While a reporter for The Daily Caller in 2011, Fields and videographer Direna Cousins were pushed down while covering the Occupy Wall Street protests in New York City, as shown in photos and videos at the time.
Michelle getting pushed down by police during the Occupy Wall Street protests. Trump campaign serial liars pic.twitter.com/oNptBzNkC9
— Jamie Weinstein (@Jamie_Weinstein) March 10, 2016
Solov of Breitbart reacted to the Trump campaign’s statement Thursday by saying: “We are disappointed in the campaign’s response, in particular their effort to demean Michelle’s previous reporting. Michelle Fields is an intrepid reporter who has covered tough and dangerous stories. We stand behind her reporting, her techniques, and call again on Corey Lewandowski to apologize.”
With a Republican presidential debate scheduled for Thursday night, Shapiro of Breitbart encouraged CNN to ask Trump about the incident.
.@jaketapper Please ask Trump at the top tonight whether he stands by his campaign manager who committed battery on a female reporter.
— Ben Shapiro (@benshapiro) March 10, 2016