Donald Trump’s campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, will not be prosecuted for battery.
The announcement came Thursday from the Palm Beach County State Attorney’s Office confirming predictions that had been swirling the past few days.
After a campaign event last month in Jupiter Florida, a former reporter for Breitbart News Network, Michelle Fields, filed a police report claiming someone yanked her by the arm. Another reporter confirmed it was Lewandowski.
Lewandowski was later charged by police with simple battery, which is a misdemeanor.
In a written explanation for not pursuing the charges, the State Attorney’s Office said there was a “reasonable hypothesis of innocence,” meaning the state did not feel it would be able prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt.
“While the evidence in this case is legally sufficient to have charged Mr. Lewandowski, it is not strong enough to meet the legal burden of a reasonable likelihood of a conviction,” said David Aronberg, the Palm Beach County state attorney. “It is unethical for us to file cases when we believe there is not a good faith basis to proceed.”
The state said there is no doubt that Lewandowski did pull Fields' arm and the Jupiter police acted “well within their authority to investigate and make an independent charging decision,” said Aronberg. However, the state determined that Lewandowski would be able present a reasonable defense.
“As prosecutors,” said Aronberg, “our standard for filing criminal charges is higher than mere probable cause.”
A video of the encounter has been circulated widely online. From that video along with interviews from witnesses and an affidavit from a former FBI agent who was on Trump’s protective team, the state says there is reasonable evidence that Fields brushed or touched the presidential candidate. The state says Lewandowski could make the case that he was responding to Trump's recoiling from contact with Fields. In essence, he would make the case that he was reacting to a perceived threat.
Fields’ proximity to the candidate in a so-called “protective bubble” of security was a factor in their decision.
The state does point out that there was an agent positioned behind Fields who Lewandowski could have notified of any potential threat, but the state felt that would not have been strong enough of a point to pursue the case.
Since the incident, Fields has resigned her post with Breitbart. Lewandowski remains with the campaign.