GOP hopefuls Sen. Ted Cruz and Ohio Gov. John Kasich both said they would have fired Mr. Lewandowski, who was charged Tuesday with misdemeanor battery for allegedly manhandling a female reporter at a press conference in Florida.
“That’s because they’re weak, ineffective people. They fire,” said Mr. Trump, who made famous the catchphrase “you’re fired” on his hit reality TV show “The Apprentice.”
“They fire. They want to be politically correct. I don’t want to be politically correct. I want to be correct,” he said on ABC’s “Good Morning America,” as he made the rounds of morning news shows to defend Mr. Lewandowski.
In several of the interviews, Mr. Trump said he was standing in the way of a rush to judgement that would “destroy a man’s life.”
He also insisted that an apology immediately after the March 8 incident would not have stopped Breitbart reporter Michelle Fields from pressing charges.
On NBC’s “Today” program, Mr. Trump disputed video from a surveillance camera at Trump International Golf Club in Jupiter, Florida, where the incident occurred, that appeared to confirm that Mr. Lewandowski grabbed the Ms. Fields’ arm during a scrum in pursuit of the candidate.
“She made up this story. She said she was yanked to the ground. That was before she found out there was a security camera on her,” said Mr. Trump. “I supplied the security camera and the tape.”
“She said, ‘I almost fell to the ground but was able to maintain my balance. I was shaken. Campaign managers aren’t supposed to forcefully throw reporters to the ground,’” said Mr. Trump. “She wasn’t thrown to the ground.”
Ms. Fields has shown photographs of bruises on her arm that are consistent with being grabbed.
She also has tweeted that Mr. Trump and Mr. Lewandoski should “stop lying.”
Mr. Trump said that the video showed Ms. Fields grabbed him by the arm twice and he had to push her away as she chased after him at the end of the press conference.
Mr. Trump said that Mr. Lewandowski intervened to put himself between the candidate and the reporter, adding that the incident was “minor.”
The billionaire businessman also balked at Ms. Fields claims that she was only seeking an apology after the incident, as well as speculation that an immediate apology from Mr. Lewandowski or the Trump campaign would have avoided at the criminal charges.
“I think she would have pressed charges anyway because I think she likes it. Maybe I’m wrong,” said Mr. Trump. “I think if he said he was sorry she would have used that against him.”
• S.A. Miller can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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