Donald Trump's presidential campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, was charged with simple battery Tuesday by the police in Jupiter, Florida, who said he had grabbed a reporter for Breitbart News as she tried to ask the candidate a question.
The formal charges stem from a March 8 encounter that dominated headlines for days and became an unwanted distraction for Trump's campaign after his successful victories in Super Tuesday contests.
A spokeswoman for Trump, Hope Hicks, insisted that Lewandowski was "not arrested" over the allegations that he grabbed the reporter, Michelle Fields, after a news conference at Trump National Golf Club in Jupiter. Instead, she said he "was issued a notice to appear and was given a court date."
According to the "arrest/notice to appear" paperwork from the Jupiter Police Department, Lewandowski was charged with one count of simple battery after the police took statements from Fields and a Washington Post reporter, Ben Terris, who said he witnessed the grabbing incident.
Fields said after the news conference that she had been trying to question Trump about judges and affirmative action when Lewandowski grabbed her roughly. She posted on Twitter a picture of purplish, finger-shaped bruises on her arm.
Lewandowski denied touching her and called her "delusional."
But according to the police report, security video from the Trump golf club showed Lewandowski grabbing her and pulling her away from the candidate.
Indeed, a series of still photographs captured from security cameras at the golf club, released Tuesday by the Jupiter police, appears to corroborate Fields' version of events: Lewandowski can be seen reaching for and then grabbing her arm, tugging at her clothing as he pulls her; he then walks ahead of her, close behind Trump. It all takes less than four seconds.
Lewandowski is known as a combative and sometimes divisive figure in Trump's orbit. He has been known to scream and curse at reporters with regularity, putting some on a "blacklist" for coverage he considers unfavorable. And more recently, he was seen wandering into the crowd at a Trump rally in Arizona to confront a protester, grabbing the man by the back of his collar and pulling him.
Hicks, in her statement, said: "Mr. Lewandowski was issued a notice to appear and was given a court date. He was not arrested. Mr. Lewandowski is absolutely innocent of this charge. He will enter a plea of not guilty and looks forward to his day in court. He is completely confident that he will be exonerated."
She directed questions to his lawyers, Scott Richardson and Kendall Coffey, both based in Florida. Lewandowski is expected to appear in court May 4.