Donald Trump’s campaign manager was charged Tuesday with misdemeanor battery over allegations he grabbed the arm of then-Breitbart reporter Michelle Fields, as the aide maintained his innocence.
The incident occurred after a March 8 press conference at the Trump National Golf Club in Jupiter, Fla., where Corey Lewandowski was accused by Fields of grabbing her arm as she asked the Republican front-runner a question.
Lewandowski initially denied the incident had taken place, telling Fields over Twitter he had never even met her. Trump also backed Lewandowski, telling reporters a few days later that "everybody said nothing happened. Perhaps she made the story up, I think that’s what happened.”
However, the Jupiter Police Department obtained video from the ballroom that it says parallels Fields' version of events, and subsequently charged Lewandowski.
The police report says Lewandowski "grabbed Fields left arm with his right hand, causing her to turn and step back."
Trump vowed to stand by Lewandowski, telling reporters Tuesday afternoon on his plane in Janesville, Wis. he does not discard people.
"Corey's a fine person. I looked at the tapes, the tapes were supplied by me," Trump said.
Trump said in the tapes, Fields was seen running up and grabbing him after a news conference which he claimed she was "never supposed to do," and that Lewandowski intervened.
"I told him you should never settle this case, you should go all the way," he said.
He called the situation "very unfair" to Lewandowski, one of his closest advisers. He says he hopes the matter doesn't change Lewandowski's role on his campaign.
The Trump campaign issued a statement Tuesday calling Lewandowski “absolutely innocent.”
“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,” spokeswoman Hope Hicks said in a statement. “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.”
Trump and Fields also sparred anew on Twitter in the wake of the news.
Why aren't people looking at this reporters earliest statement as to what happened, that is before she found out the episode was on tape?— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 29, 2016
Because my story never changed. Seriously, just stop lying. https://t.co/1fz9cBHOuT— Michelle Fields (@MichelleFields) March 29, 2016
Lewandowski is due to appear in court on May 4th to face one count of simple battery.
In most states, battery is defined as intentional offensive or harmful touching of another person without their consent.
Fields resigned from her job at Breitbart shortly after the incident, claiming that the organization had not stood by her. Editor-at-large Ben Shapiro also stepped down over Breitbart’s handling of the alleged assault.
Ted Cruz's campaign said the incident is indicative of the culture of the Trump campaign.
"Unfortunately, this abusive behavior seems to be part of the culture of the Trump campaign. Personal attacks, verbal attacks, and now physical attacks have no place in politics or anywhere else in our society," campaign spokeswoman Alice Stewart said in a statement.
Meanwhile, John Kasich's campaign strategist John Weaver called Lewandowski a "bully" and said he would have already been fired if he worked for the Ohio governor.
Campaigns reflect the values of the candidate. I know ours does. If this bully worked for John Kasich, he would have been fired long ago.— John Weaver (@JWGOP) March 29, 2016
Fox News' Serafin Gomez and Blake Burman contributed to this report.