A Florida prosecutor announced Thursday that his office will not pursue a misdemeanor battery charge against Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump's campaign manager over allegations he grabbed the arm of a reporter.
Palm Beach County State Attorney David Aronberg confirmed the decision at a press conference, saying there was not sufficient evidence to pursue the charge against Corey Lewandowski. Local police had charged him last month after reporter Michelle Fields accused him of grabbing her as she tried to speak to Trump.
Aronberg said the police were “well within their authority” to bring that charge but there is a “higher” standard for his office to pursue it.
“It is not strong enough to meet the legal burden of a reasonable likelihood of conviction,” he said.
Further, he said that Fields, at the time of the incident, had been directed toward the back of the room along with other media members. She later approached the candidate and “brushed or touched” Trump’s arm, he said. It was at this point that Lewandowski “grabbed” Fields’ arm and pulled her away, he said.
Trump campaign social media director Dan Scavino earlier had posted on his Facebook page that the charge would not be pressed against Lewandowski.
The Trump campaign said the matter was now "concluded."
"Corey Lewandowski is gratified by the decision to drop the misdemeanor charge and appreciates the thoughtful consideration and professionalism by the Palm Beach State Attorney and his staff who carefully reviewed this matter, as well as Mr. Trump’s loyalty and the support of his colleagues and family during this time," the statement said. "The matter is now concluded."
The decision not to prosecute Lewandowski was first reported by Politico.
The incident occurred after a March 8 press conference at the Trump National Golf Club in Jupiter, Fla., where Lewandowski was accused by Fields, a reporter for Breitbart at the time, of grabbing her arm as she asked the Republican front-runner a question.
Lewandowski initially denied the incident had taken place.
However, the Jupiter Police Department obtained video from the ballroom that it said paralleled 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."
Fields told Fox News' Megyn Kelly in a "Kelly File" interview Wednesday night that she is planning to pursue a civil case against Lewandowski for defamation.
She also responded in a series of tweets on reports that Lewandowski won't be charged.
Prosecutor's office told me they would inform me of decision tomorrow. If reports true, guess they decided to leak to reporters first. Ugly.— Michelle Fields (@MichelleFields) April 14, 2016
For those asking, office of prosecutor asked 2 weeks ago if I'd be ok with an apology from Corey. I said ya but haven't heard back about it— Michelle Fields (@MichelleFields) April 14, 2016
Lewandowski, speaking with Fox News' Sean Hannity, expressed appreciation for Trump's "loyalty" throughout the case.
It was "a three-second incident that I don't recall that has really taken over a big piece of my life," Lewandowski said.
He also said he would forgive and be open to meeting with Fields in the future, when asked by Hannity.
Trump has staunchly defended his campaign manager after he was charged, as the Republican front-runner suggested the reporter could have been perceived as a threat.
“She's grabbing my arm. She's not supposed to. She broke through Secret Service, she is asking questions,” Trump told Fox News last month. “She's got a pen in her arm, which she's not supposed to have. It shows that she's a very aggressive person who is grabbing at me and touching me. Maybe I should file charges against her.”
If reporter Michelle Fields really had fallen, Trump said, “He would have been fired before she even got up.”