During the drowsy 12th Republican debate, CNN’s Jake Tapper asked a subdued Donald Trump about violence at his campaign events. On Thursday a man was actually charged with assault when he punched a protester (who was then dragged out by security), so it seemed the occasion called for asking Trump if he feels responsible for any of the agro mood he’s cultivated.
Trump turned waffle in response, saying he “certainly do(es) not condone” violence but that darn it, the people are furious over trade deals, so you know…. Previously, as Tapper noted, Trump has actually egged on violence against protesters from the podium and even said he would pay their legal bills.
In most cases, the people perpetrating these alleged assaults have not been charged. Weirdly, Ted Cruz almost seemed to agree with Trump in terms of diverting blame for people being on edge and attacking others. In Cruz’s case, he blamed Washington, DC for it. Trump mostly stuck to dissing any protesters who come to his events, suggesting they were invariably the ones starting violence.
The unasked and unanswered question at the debate was whether Trump’s campaign manager has been directly violent. On Tuesday, Breitbart News reporter Michelle Fields (an acquaintance of mine) claims she was grabbed on the arm hard enough to bruise and nearly knocked down by someone who Washington Post reporter Ben Terris identified as the Trump campaign’s Corey Lewandowski.
Terris, who hasn’t tweeted since the incident, presumably already had “'Dishonest reporter, a real creep.’ –Donald Trump” as his Twitter bio. On the other hand, Fields is with a quite pro-Trump outlet, something that she and Terris discussed after the incident.
Though many of Fields’ fellow journalists raised a hue and cry on Twitter, a few sources – including Lewandowski’s Twitter account, on which he linked to noted imaginary journalist Charles Johnson’s “expose” on Fields – suggested that because she got knocked down by the NYPD at an Occupy Wall Street rally in 2011 she must be A.) a liar, B.) asking for it, and C.) an attention-whore.
@MichelleFields you are totally delusional. I never touched you. As a matter of fact, I have never even met you.— Corey R. Lewandowski (@CLewandowski_) March 11, 2016
I asked Corey Lewandowski just now if he touched @MichelleFields at rally. He didn’t answer, said “I’m going to work with Mr. Trump tonight”— Dylan Byers (@DylanByers) March 11, 2016
Fields has filed charges against Lewandowski, and now police can begin to sort out who grabbed the reporter–Trump’s campaign manager, security or some rando?
Once everything was packed away at the debate, the public was subjected to several minutes of postgame analysis from a sweaty, satisfied Trump who was primping in the direction of a meek CNN reporter.
Later still, the network’s Dylan Beyer did actually question Trump about the alleged Fields incident. Trump merely praised the Secret Service and said Fields was probably making up the whole thing up for attention. Fields is certainly getting noticed for the confrontation, but when this kerfuffle over who is punching whom, or which campaign manager is grabbing whose arm dies down, the most unnerving thing is going to be how little damage any of it did to Trump.