Trump campaign manager accused of yanking reporter's arm

AP News
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Posted: Mar 11, 2016 12:00 AM
Trump campaign manager accused of yanking reporter's arm

FAYETTVILLE, N.C. (AP) — The campaign of Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump on Thursday strongly denied allegations that his campaign manager roughly "yanked" a female reporter's arm, and questioned her credibility in a statement and on social media.

Michelle Fields, a reporter with conservative outlet Breitbart News, says Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski physically pulled her away from Trump after a news conference in Florida earlier this week.

Fields wrote in a first person post on breitbart.com Thursday that, after asking Trump a question as he was leaving a room at his golf course clubhouse in Jupiter, Florida, she was "yanked" by a man that another reporter identified as Lewandowski.

"Trump acknowledged the question, but before he could answer I was jolted backwards. 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," she wrote.

Fields on Thursday also posted a photo on Twitter of a bruised arm. "I guess these just magically appeared on me," she wrote. "So weird."

The reporter that Fields said had identified Lewandowski, The Washington Post's Ben Terris, reported in a story Thursday that he'd "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."

Asked about the incident after Thursday night's GOP debate, Trump told reporters: "The Secret Service said nothing happened."

In a statement, Trump campaign spokeswoman Hope Hicks described the accusation as "entirely false" and said neither Fields nor Terris had previously met Lewandowski.

"As one of dozens of individuals present as Mr. Trump exited the press conference I did not witness any encounter. 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," she said.

She added that Trump often faces crowds "aggressively seeking access to Mr. Trump" but that campaign 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."

In her statement, Hicks said Fields' accusations were "part a larger pattern of exaggerating" incidents. On his Twitter account, Lewandowski also sought to undercut Fields' accusations, calling her an "attention seeker" and posting links to a pair of stories on the conservative news site gotnews.com that questioned her credibility.

In response to the incident, the White House Correspondents' Association said it condemns "any act of violence or intimidation" against any journalist covering the 2016 campaign, "whether perpetrated by a candidate's supporters, staff or security officers."

The group, which represents journalists covering the White House, said it is increasingly concerned about some of the rhetoric aimed at reporters covering the 2016 presidential campaign and is urging presidential candidates to conduct their campaigns "in a manner that respects the robust back-and-forth between politicians and the press that is critical to a thriving democracy."

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Associated Press writer Julie Bykowicz contributed to this report from Miami.