Some of Donald Trump’s top endorsers say they’re standing by him despite the fact that his campaign manager has been charged with battery.
The misdemeanor charge against Corey Lewandowski, Trump’s campaign manager, would in most campaigns have resulted in the campaign manager being fired. But Trump has made clear he has no intention of dismissing Lewandowski, and has instead repeatedly mocked and cast aspersions on Michelle Fields, the reporter who was allegedly manhandled by Lewandowski earlier this month at a press conference and filed a police report against him.
On Tuesday, BuzzFeed News contacted 16 prominent Trump backers. No one who responded said the Lewandowski situation — which Florida police told the New York Times amounted to an "actual arrest" — was making them question their support for Trump.
“The governor is not reconsidering his support of Mr. Trump,” said Rick Rosenberg, spokesman for the New Jersey Republican Party, regarding Chris Christie.
A spokesman for Ben Carson, Armstrong Williams, declined to comment on whether Lewandowski should be fired. But he said Carson remained committed to Trump.
“His endorsement was and remains rooted in principle,” said Williams. “He remains confident in Mr. Trump's evolution and strongly believe that he loves our country and will surround himself with our best and wisest!”
The arrest of Trump’s campaign manager would have “no influence” over California Rep. Duncan Hunter’s endorsement, according to his top aide.
“It's for the Trump campaign to decide what to do, based on facts and not premature judgements,” said the congressman’s chief of staff, Joe Kasper. “And even then, this will have to run its course. The Trump campaign will make the right call but I'm absolutely positive there are a lot of people with political bias who would like to see him gone from the campaign, as if that would somehow slow down Trump's momentum. But this has no influence on Rep. Hunter's support for Trump as a candidate.”
The campaign manager for one of Trump’s other congressional endorsers, Pennsylvania Rep. Tom Marino, sent a statement from Marino reiterating his support for Trump.
“I have been interviewed by Michelle Fields and she is a complete professional,” Marino said in the statement. “As a former district attorney and U.S. attorney, I know that everybody deserves there [sic] day in court. We are presumed innocent until proven guilty. I continue to support Donald Trump because he is the only candidate who has what it takes to secure our borders, protect our country from Islamic terrorists and regenerate our slumping economy after eight years of weak leadership from President Obama."
Asked by BuzzFeed News whether he thought Lewandowski should be fired, former New York Republican gubernatorial nominee Carl Paladino emailed that the question “reeks of suggestion.”
“You are off the reservation,” said Paladino, a longtime Trump ally. “A good criminal lawyer will tell you that even a forceful casual touching under those circumstances is not an assault or battery.”
Referring to Fields, Paladino said, “Tell the young lady to get a real life for herself and stop getting legal advice from liberal progressives.”
Spokespeople for several other Trump backers did not respond to requests for comment, including Sen. Jeff Sessions and Sarah Palin.
Rosie Gray is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Washington, D.C. Gray reports on politics and foreign policy.
Contact Rosie Gray at email@example.com.
McKay Coppins is a senior writer for the BuzzFeed News politics team, and the author of The Wilderness, about the battle over the future of the Republican Party.
Contact McKay Coppins at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Got a confidential tip? Submit it here.