Republican Rep. Peter King of New York defended Corey Lewandowski on Tuesday after new video emerged from the incident showing Lewandowski grabbing a reporter's arm and pulling her backwards at a Donald Trump event in early March.
Lewandowski was charged with simple battery on Tuesday over the incident, which occurred between him and ex-Breitbart reporter Michelle Fields at Trump National Golf Club in Jupiter, Florida, on March 8,
"This thing with Corey Lewandowski," King said on Imus in the Morning. "I don't know him, my staff knows him in Washington, he worked in Washington for a while. You know, before I saw the video yesterday, I thought he had hit her with a baseball bat or something. I haven't practiced law in a while but I never heard of somebody being charged for touching someone on the arm, unless you're talking about some kind of a sexual thing."
In the days after the incident, Fields said Lewandowski grabbed her arm and nearly threw her to the ground, resulting in multiple bruises on her arm.
"If you're in the middle of a political scrum, those things happen," the New York congressman said. "You bump into people. Reporters put their arms in trying to get interviews, sticking a tape recorder in the guy's face and pushing people out of the way. When she was on television describing it afterwards, I think she said it was the worst moment in her life, and how terrible it was. I'd be embarrassed to even talk about it."
King went on to say that, though his campaign manager had been charged with battery, Trump could benefit politically from what he characterized as the media's exaggeration of the incident, arguing that it was the norm under such circumstances.
"Trump I think is gonna try and get, believe it or not, the high ground on this issue," he said.
He went on to say, "Listen, I'm not saying he did the right thing. I'm just saying I think Trump benefits from the fact that it was so exaggerated. Now people look at it and say, it's not that bad. If they had said early on, 'He shouldn't have touched her,' that's one thing, but the way they described it, as being some kind of brutal assault and battery and she was in fear of her life and you look at it and say, 'It's not that big of a deal.'"
King, who has not yet endorsed a candidate, said in the interview that he believes John Kasich would be the strongest general election candidate in November, but that the Ohio governor doesn't have "that big a chance" to capture the nomination. Between Trump and Ted Cruz, King said in the interview that he prefers Trump, adding that he likes Trump's political style.
"Somebody who goes on your show here, a candidate or whoever yells back at Imus, Bernie yells back at you, that's part of the game, that's part of the business, but some of these national reporters get offended if a politician gives them any crap back," King said. "So no, I, so the style I sort of like in a way. I just wish he knew more what he was talking about."
Christopher Massie is a political reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.
Contact Christopher Massie at Christopher.Massie@buzzfeed.com.
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