Washington (AFP) – Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump’s campaign manager will not be prosecuted over a run-in with a reporter last month, a Florida official said Thursday, citing insufficient evidence to proceed.
The decision to dismiss the case against Corey Lewandowski marks a victory for Trump who defended his close aide after he was accused of roughly grabbing the former Breitbart reporter Michelle Fields at a press conference in Jupiter, Florida.
“This office will not be filing charges against Lewandowski for battery,” Palm Beach County State Attorney David Aronberg told reporters, noting that Jupiter police had filed the initial charges of simple battery against Lewandowski.
“While the evidence in this case is legally sufficient for the police to have charged Mr. Lewandowski, it is not strong enough to meet the burden of a reasonable likelihood of a conviction,” Aronberg said.
“It is unethical to file cases when we believe there is not a good faith basis to proceed.”
Lewandowski, 42, was accused of grabbing Fields so hard that it left bruises on her arm. The hard-nosed, controversial campaign manager has vehemently denied that account of the incident, which took place as Trump fielded questions while leaving the news conference.
Trump’s campaign swiftly issued a statement after the state attorney’s decision.
“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,” the campaign said.
“The matter is now concluded.”
Aronberg said his office spoke with Fields Thursday and “it was clear to us she was disappointed with the decision.”
Fields, who had posted photographs of her bruises following the incident, may still pursue a defamation case against Lewandowski, according to Politico who cited a source with knowledge of the situation.