A reporter for the conservative news website Breitbart.com is accusing Donald Trump’s campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, of violently grabbing her by the arm and trying to pull her to the ground after a news conference on Tuesday.
Fields later resigned from Breitbart.
On March 11, the Independent Journal reported that Fields filed a criminal complaint against Lewandowski in Jupiter, Florida.
Jupiter Police charged Lewandowski with misdemeanor simple battery on March 29.
Also on March, The Daily Beast posted video that appears to show the moment Lewandowski grabbed Fields:
Lewandowski called Fields “delusional” in a tweet two days after the incident. Trump told reporters after the March 10 GOP debate that he thinks Fields made up the incident.
Here’s what you need to know about Fields and the incident:
1. Fields Posted a Photo Showing Bruises on Her Arm & Her Boyfriend Called Lewandowski a ‘Thug’
The incident allegedly occurred on the night of March 8 following a Donald Trump press conference in Florida.
The accusations first began to spread on social media when Michelle Fields’ boyfriend, Daily Caller editor Jamie Weinstein, posted about it on Twitter, calling campaign manager Corey Lewandowski a “thug.”
The next day, Fields wrote about it on Breitbart.com, saying she never sought to become part of the story:
I wasn’t called upon to ask a question during the televised press conference, but afterwards Trump wandered around, stopping at every reporter to take their questions. When he approached me, I asked him about his view on an aspect of affirmative action.
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.
The Washington Post’s Ben Terris immediately remarked that it was Trump’s campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, who aggressively tried to pull me to the ground. I quickly turned around and saw Lewandowski and Trump exiting the building together. No apology. No explanation for why he did this.
She said Lewandowski was “out of line” and said there was no hint Trump was done asking questions. She later posted a photo of bruises left on her arm, which you can see above.
While the Trump campaign claimed there are were no witnesses or video showing the incident, Washington Post reporter Ben Terris wrote about what he saw Thursday:
As security parted the masses to give him passage out of the chandelier-lit ballroom, Michelle Fields, a young reporter for Trump-friendly Breitbart News, pressed forward to ask the GOP front-runner a question. I 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.
Fields stumbled. Finger-shaped bruises formed on her arm.
‘I’m just a little spooked,’ she said, a tear streaming down her face. ‘No one has grabbed me like that before.’
She took my arm and squeezed it hard. ‘I don’t even want to do it as hard as he did,’ she said, ‘because it would hurt.’
In a statement, Breitbart.com’s CEO Larry Solov said, “It’s obviously unacceptable that someone crossed a line and made physical contact with our reporter. What Michelle has told us directly is that someone ‘grabbed her arm’ and while she did not see who it was, Ben Terris of the Washington Post told her that it was Corey Lewandowski. If that’s the case, Corey owes Michelle an immediate apology.”
2. Trump’s Campaign Called Fields’ Allegations ‘False’ & Questioned Her Past Claim That She Was Assaulted by the NYPD
Donald Trump’s campaign spokesperson Holly Hicks called the allegations “entirely false” in a statement. She added that she was there and didn’t witness the encounter, nor did any of their staff. She said the incident also wasn’t caught on camera.
“This individual has never met Corey, nor had the only reporter that supposedly identified him,” Hicks said. “There are often large crowds aggressively seeking access to Mr. Trump and our 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.”
Sources told The Daily Beast that Lewandowski didn’t recognize Fields and didn’t realize she was with Breitbart, instead thinking she was a member of the “mainstream media.”
The Trump campaign has also questioned allegations made by Fields in 2011 against the NYPD. She said she was assaulted during an Occupy Wall Street protest.
In its statement, the campaign wrote, “This person claims she does not want to be part of the news, and only report it, however if that was the case, any concerns, however unfounded they may be, should have been voiced directly first and not via Twitter. … We leave it to others whether this is part of a larger pattern of exaggerating incidents, but on multiple occasions she has become part of the news story as opposed to reporting it. Recall she also claimed to have been beaten by a New York City Police officer with a baton.”
Lewandowski appears to have gone into attack mode, tweeting about Fields:
Fields’ boyfriend came to her defense, posting a photo from 2011:
It is not clear if she ever filed a formal complaint with the NYPD.
“The police officers were beating the protesters with batons, and were also beating the media,” Fields told The Daily Caller after the 2011 incident. “They hit Direna (Cousins, her photographer) and me with batons. They hit other members of the press in order to get them to move out of the street.”
Fields added, “Direna had a camera in her hand and I had a microphone, and we were being hit. When I fell to the ground I said at one point, ‘I’m just covering this! I’m covering this!’ And the officer just said, ‘Come on, get up, get up,’ before pulling me up by my jacket.”
She said the protesters helped her.
“The protesters came up to me right away and asked if I needed any medical assistance. They were actually very kind and helpful. It was the police officers who were very aggressive,” Fields said.
She also talked about the incident on Fox Business News, an interview you can watch here. The news network also showed footage from the incident.
Fields said she told police she was press, “and they just had nothing to say.”
3. She Is a California Native & Graduated From Pepperdine University in 2011
Fields, 28, is originally from Calabasas, California, near Los Angeles, and graduated from Pepperdine University in 2011, according to her website.
She is of Honduran descent and speaks Spanish, she told The Hill last year after being named one of its “Most Beautiful.”
“I grew up with my grandmother — she’s from Honduras. … I spoke Spanish with her all the time,” she explained. “I practice just to keep up with the vocabulary.”
Her father, Greg Fields, is a TV and film writer.
4. She Worked as a Reporter for The Daily Caller Before Joining Breitbart & Was a Fox News Contributor
Fields got her start as a reporter for The Daily Caller after graduating from Pepperdine, according to her website.
She was also a contributor to Fox News until September 2015. She joined Breitbart.com in November 2015.
“Michelle Fields represents the essence of what Breitbart News looks for in a reporter—brains, guts and tenacity, Breitbart News Executive Chairman Stephen K. Bannon said at the time. “We couldn’t be more excited that she is joining Matt Boyle and the rest of our extraordinary Washington Political team.”
5. She Has Described Her Style as Being Similar to ‘Citizen Journalism’
Fields gained attention for her confrontational style of journalism, including a 2011 video in which she had an exchange with actor Matt Damon over teacher tenure reform.
In a Q&A with C-SPAN in 2011, she said, “I am a video journalist. I would say that what we’re doing is almost like citizen journalism which is basically when an individual who doesn’t have that much training in journalism has the tools and modern technology to capture a live event but doesn’t have a background in journalism.”
Fields has also given a Ted Talk about the changing face of citizen journalism, which you can watch above.