A former Donald Trump campaign staffer is suing the president for kissing her without her consent while at a 2016 rally in Florida. In her lawsuit, Alva Johnson says the interaction still causes her anguish.
Johnson, a 43-year-old mom of four, told The Washington Post that Trump grabbed her hand and leaned in to kiss her on the lips as he exited an RV outside the rally in Tampa on Aug. 24, 2016. Johnson, who called the kiss "super-creepy and inappropriate," said she turned her head and the kiss landed on the side of her mouth.
"I immediately felt violated because I wasn't expecting it or wanting it," she said. "I can still see his lips coming straight for my face."
She said she told her boyfriend, mother and stepfather about the incident on that same day, which all three confirmed to The Post. A Florida attorney gave The Post text messages showing that he considered Johnson "credible" but did not take her case for other business reasons.
White House press secretary Sarah Sanders denied the allegation, calling it "absurd on its face."
"This never happened and is directly contradicted by multiple highly credible eye witness accounts," she wrote in a statement.
Two people that Johnson identified as witnesses — a Trump campaign official and former Florida attorney general Pam Bondi — both denied seeing the alleged kiss.
Johnson is the only Trump accuser to come forward since he took office, although more than a dozen women have publicly accused him of touching them inappropriately. Trump also faces a defamation lawsuit in New York by former Apprentice contestant Summer Zervos, who claims he forcibly kissed and groped her in 2007.
In the lawsuit filed Monday, Johnson is seeking unspecified damages for emotional pain and suffering. The lawsuit also alleges that the campaign discriminated against Johnson, who is black, by paying her less than her white male counterparts. A campaign spokeswoman told The Post that the claim was "off-base and unfounded."
“I’ve tried to let it go,” Jonson said told The Post. “You want to move on with your life. I don’t sleep. I wake up at 4 in the morning looking at the news. I feel guilty. The only thing I did was show up for work one day.”
Johnson, who registered as a Democrat in California several years ago, said she voted for President Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012, but thought Trump might be able to use business experience to help struggling black communities. She said she became interested in his campaign through her stepfather, Jacob Savage, who said he has been active in Republican politics for decades.
She said she met Trump at a campaign rally in Birmingham, Alabama, where he allegedly looked her up and down and said, "Oh, beautiful, beautiful, fantastic." She said she looked past the comment and took a job as the campaign's director of outreach and coalitions in Alabama two months later. She worked in Florida for the three months before the general election.
She said in the lawsuit that Trump grasped her hand, thanked her for her work and leaned in.
“Oh, my God, I think he’s going to kiss me,” she said in an interview, describing the moment. “He’s coming straight for my lips. So I turn my head, and he kisses me right on corner of my mouth, still holding my hand the entire time. Then he walks on out.”
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