- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 14, 2016

A Florida prosecutor Thursday dropped a charge of misdemeanor battery filed against Donald Trump’s campaign manager who was accused of manhandling a female reporter at a press conference.

Palm Beach County State Attorney David Aronberg said there was not sufficient evidence to proceed with a trial against Corey Lewandowski, although he stressed that there was probably cause for the police to press charges.

“It is unethical for us to file a case when we believe there is not a good faith basis to proceed,” Mr. Aronberg said at a press conference in West Palm Beach, Florida.

The misdemeanor charge stemmed from a March 8 incident at Trump International Golf Club in Jupiter, Florida, where Breitbart reporter Michelle Fields claimed that during a scrum, Mr. Lewandowski grabbed her by the arm and tried to throw her to the ground.

Mr. Aronberg said the facts of the case, based largely on a videotape of the incident, supported probable cause for police to charge Mr. Lewandowski but did not meet the higher standard for prosecutors who must prove the case to a jury beyond a reasonable doubt.



Mr. Aronberg said he did not believe his office would sustain a conviction.

The decision to drop the charges ended a major distraction for Mr. Trump’s front-running campaign for the Republican presidential nomination. Mr. Trump has vehemently defended his campaign manager since police filed the charges March 29.

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 matter is now concluded,” the Trump campaign said in a statement.

The crime of simple battery in Florida is defined as any actual and intentional touching or striking of another person that is non-consensual or has the intention of inflicting bodily harm to another person.

Ms. Fields reportedly showed police bruises on her arm that were consistent with being grabbed.

Mr. Aronberg said that the video of the incident indicated that Mr. Lewandowski did grab Ms. Fields and pull her back as she pursued Mr. Trump as he left the press conference. But he said that was not sufficient to win a conviction in court, and extenuating circumstances, including Secret Service protocol for protecting the candidate, would have been considered by the court.

Breitbart management did not support Ms. Fields when she first made the accusations, prompting her and several top staffers and editors at the conservative news site to resign.

Ms. Fields could still pursue a defamation case against Mr. Lewandowski.

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