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Saturday 24 February 2018

Trump vows to stand by campaign manager facing assault charge

Donald Trump's campaign manager has been charged with assault (AP)
Donald Trump's campaign manager has been charged with assault (AP)

Donald Trump has vowed to stand by his campaign manager Corey Lewandowski after he was charged with simple battery following an altercation with a female reporter.

Mr Trump said he doesn't "discard people" and called the situation "very unfair" to Lewandowski, one of his closest advisers.

He said he hopes the matter doesn't change Lewandowski's role on his campaign.

Mr Trump spoke to reporters on his plane shortly after landing in Wisconsin for a rally ahead of the state's April 5 primary.

Police in Jupiter, Florida, issued Lewandowski with a notice to appear before a judge on May 4 for the misdemeanour charge. A surveillance video released by the police appears to show Lewandowski grabbing a reporter for Breitbart News as she tried to ask Mr Trump a question during a March 8 campaign event.

The charge carries up to a year in jail.

The Trump campaign said Lewandowski "is absolutely innocent of this charge".

"He will enter a plea of not guilty and looks forward to his day in court," said the statement. "He is completely confident that he will be exonerated."

Mr Trump himself called Lewandowski "a very decent man" on Twitter: "Look at the tapes - nothing there!"

A police report obtained by AP includes an interview with the reporter, Michelle Fields.

"Lewandowski grabbed Fields' left arm with his right hand causing her to turn and step back," reads the report. Fields showed police her left forearm which "appeared to show a grabbing-type injury," according to the investigating officer.

In a second piece of bad news for Mr Trump, Wisconsin governor Scott Walker endorsed his rival Ted Cruz in the Republican race for the party's nomination.

Mr Walker said his endorsement was not part of mainstream Republicans' drive to block front-running Mr Trump but support for "a strong new leader".

The Wisconsin governor, who was briefly in the race for the Republican nomination, announced his support for Mr Cruz and said he is "in the best position by far to both win the nomination of the Republican Party and then go on to defeat Hillary Clinton in the fall".

Mr Trump planned to make his first campaign appearance in Wisconsin before joining Ohio governor John Kasich and Mr Cruz for a CNN interview.

It is unclear how much Mr Walker's endorsement will help Mr Cruz. The governor's approval rating has not cracked 40% in more than a year.

Wisconsin has 42 delegates, with 18 going to the state-wide winner and 24 divided among the winners in each of the state's eight congressional districts. Mr Trump heads into Wisconsin with 739 delegates to Mr Cruz's 465. Kasich lags behind with 143. It takes 1,237 to assure the nomination.

Press Association

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