When police charged Donald Trump’s campaign manager Corey Lewandowski with misdemeanor battery on Tuesday, they also released a video that clearly showed Lewandowski physically grabbing and pulling former Breitbart reporter Michelle Fields.
In response, Fox News ran a segment featuring two legal experts who argued that, well, maybe Lewandowski did grab her — but was it really so bad?
Fox News legal analyst Lis Wiehl went first.
“Technically, it’s there,” said Wiehl, an adjunct law professor at New York Law School. “But I don’t know if I were a prosecutor if I would have charged that. I would definitely talk to the quote-un-quote victim, but when you’re in a place like that and you’re shouting like that and you’re moving forward, it’s not necessarily… yes, it’s a chargeable offense, but I don’t think I would have charged it.”
Former Morris County prosecutor Robert Bianchi weighed in next. He agreed with Wiehl that he wouldn’t have charged Lewandowski, and said physical contact was normal for a contentious political season.
Bianchi also suggested that people often make accusations of physical violence to “smear” and “cause problems or controversy” during campaigns.
Here’s the transcript of Bianchi’s comments (emphasis added):
“When I was a prosecutor, this was going on all the time during the political season. … You had all sorts of people filing complaints against candidates to smear them or cause problems or controversy within the campaign. It’s not something the campaign wants.
But I agree with Lis. I would be looking at all the conduct, all the circumstances. There’s throngs of people out there, people shouting things, it’s an aggressive environment.
He puts his hands on the woman for whatever reason, so you will have to hear what that defense may be. There was no serious injury here. It is a political environment. You know, it’s a contact sport. So I don’t know whether or not as a prosecutor, when looking at the dynamic, I would move forward with this prosecution.
Earlier this month, Fields — herself a former Fox News contributor — accused Lewandowski of grabbing her at a Trump event, leaving visible bruises on her arm. The incident was corroborated by an audio transcript, an eyewitness account from a Washington Post reporter, and the bruises on Fields’ body.
At the time, Lewandowski denied grabbing Fields, and called her “totally delusional.”
“I never touched you,” Lewandowski said at the time.
During the controversy, Fields’ weekly appearances on Fox News were discontinued. According to the Daily Beast, Fields was told she could no longer be “impartial” to Trump after the incident with Lewandowski.
The Trump campaign maintained Lewandowski’s innocence on Tuesday.
“Mr. Lewandowski is absolutely innocent of this charge,” a campaign statement read. “He will enter a plea of not guilty and looks forward to his day in court.”