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Donald Trump defends campaign manager Corey Lewandowski in heated TODAY interview

Donald Trump defends his campaign manager, saying Corey Lewandowski was only trying to protect him.
/ Source: TODAY

A clearly agitated Donald Trump continued to defend his campaign manager over accusations he grabbed a reporter, telling TODAY in a heated phone conversation “the incident was so minor” his chief staffer probably didn’t remember it.

“When you look at what happened, it was so minor that he might not have even thought about it,” Trump said Wednesday about the scuffle involving campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, whom he called “an honorable guy" and family man.

On Tuesday, Florida police charged Lewandowski with misdemeanor battery for assaulting a former Breitbart reporter who tried to talk to Trump at a campaign event. The reporter, Michelle Fields, said Lewandowski grabbed her arm hard enough to leave a bruise when she tried to ask the presidential candidate a question.

Trump has vacillated in his response to the incident, initially denying it happened and then accusing Fields of making it up. On TODAY, he continued to suggest the reporter provoked the incident by brushing up against him, prompting Lewandowski to reactively move to protect him.

The entire incident was caught on surveillance video, which clearly shows interaction between all three people but which Trump said proves nothing.

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“She’s got no evidence,” he said about Field’s accusation, saying the reporter has “changed her tune a lot” about details of the alleged incident. "She made up the story."

Bradford Cohen, an attorney for Lewandowski, said the same thing in a separate TODAY interview earlier. He described his client as “ex-New Hampshire trooper” trained to react to threats.

"If he sees a threat, or if he sees something that is unnormal or something that is irregular, he thinks that he can take action," he said. "It's not just the job of the Secret Service. Everyone is responsible for Mr. Trump's security."

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Ben Shapiro, the Breitbart editor who quit over protest of the way the publication handled the incident, said it will be up to police and the court to decide whether the charge against Lewandowski are warranted.

He said he spoke recently with Fields, wh was “happy the video came to light.” He also said she has been denying requests to go on camera because she didn’t ask for the attention.

“She never wanted to be he center of the story. All she wanted was an apology from Lewandowski and the Trump campaign. Instead of that, they decided to lie, and they decided to smear her,” he told TODAY.

Shapiro said the police and court will ultimately decide whether charges against Trump are warranted but he called the campaign “thugs” who “lie about lying and now they’re lying about the lies they lied about. We’re now all the way through the looking glass on this story.”

Follow writer Eun Kyung Kim on Twitter.