The White House is taking Donald Trump to task for his response to the controversy surrounding his campaign manager, who Tuesday was charged with simple battery for allegedly grabbing a reporter during an event.
"There's no denying that the kinds of actions and statements we've seen from this campaign is completely outside the realm of acceptable behavior that's been observed by Democratic and Republican presidents throughout the course of our history," White House press secretary Josh Earnest said Wednesday.
The controversy has stretched back to the beginning of this month, when reporter Michelle Fields accused Trump's campaign manager Corey Lewandowski of grabbing her at a March 8 campaign event in Florida. Lewandowski denied that he had ever touched Fields, calling her "delusional," and Trump said at the time he believed Fields made the whole story up.
Trump has stood firmly by his campaign manager despite newly surfaced video evidence that led the Jupiter Police Department to charge Lewandowski with simple battery on Tuesday.
"I am confident that neither President Obama, nor President Bush, would tolerate someone on their staff being accused of physically assaulting a reporter, lying about it, and then blaming the victim," Earnest said.
Trump even suggested on "Good Morning America" Wednesday that he might take legal action against Fields for allegedly touching his arm as she attempted to ask him a question.
"That is completely unacceptable behavior," Earnest said of Lewandowski. "I'm also confident in telling you that nobody is particularly surprised that that's the behavior that Mr. Trump doesn't just seem to tolerate, he seems to encourage."
Trump's campaign and Lewandowski’s attorney have said that Lewandowski is "absolutely innocent" of the charges. He has not entered a plea, but the campaign and his attorney say he intends to plead not guilty and they are “completely confident that he will be exonerated”.