Eventful morning. Donald Trump got into a heated exchange with Today show cohosts Savannah Guthrie and Matt Lauer on Wednesday, March 30, while defending his campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, against allegations from reporter Michelle Fields.
As previously reported, Lewandowski was charged with simple battery for allegedly grabbing Fields' arm at the Trump National Golf Club news conference in Jupiter, Florida, on March 8. Lewandowski has denied that he touched Fields, and tweeted on March 10 that she was "delusional."
Guthrie, 44, and Lauer, 58, aired video of Lewandowski and Fields' interaction on Wednesday, which clearly shows Lewandowski grabbing her arm. Trump, who called in about the incident, ignored the question on whether Lewandowski touched Fields, and instead suggested he himself was grabbed by Fields.
"She touched me. She grabbed me by the arm at least twice screaming questions," Trump, 69, said. When Guthrie tried to interject, he added: "Excuse me, she grabbed me. Savannah, I really don't know. She grabbed me by the arm twice. I pushed her off twice very clearly. She said she was jolted backwards — those were her exact words — she was jolted backwards and somehow grabbed me tightly by the arm and yanked me down."
@MichelleFields you are totally delusional. I never touched you. As a matter of fact, I have never even met you.— Corey Lewandowski (@CLewandowski_) March 11, 2016
"She made up this story, Savannah!" Trump continued. "She said she was yanked down. This was before she found out there was a security camera on her. It was my security camera. I supplied the security camera and the tape."
Guthrie pushed back. "Initially you said that nothing happened. The secret service told you nothing happened. Isn't it your story that has changed?" she asked.
"No, it's not my story that's changed at all," Trump replied, without acknowledging his initial statement on the incident. "She grabbed me by the arm. I didn't even know who it was … By the way, she was asking me questions — she wasn't supposed to. The press conference had ended."
Lauer, who had been quiet until this point, then intervened and went back to Lewandowski's role in the situation. "The video tape easily and plainly shows that in fact he did grab her and did pull her. And whether you want to debate whether she almost fell down or not, he didn't tell the truth. If you are the president of the United States and a member of your staff — your chief of staff — goes to the American people and publicly doesn't the truth in the way that Corey Lewandowski hasn't told the truth, would you put up with it?" Lauer asked.
"When you look at what happened, it was so minor that he might not have even thought about it," Trump said. "Because to be honest with you, when you look at this, it was so minor. People are calling saying, 'What is this all about?' We have people in the Middle East chopping off heads and drowning people in cages and he brushed her to get her hand off my arm. It was so minor he probably didn't even know that it took place … Are we going to destroy a man's life?"
Lauer replied: "No, but we also shouldn't destroy a reporter's life."
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