A former staffer with Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign has filed a lawsuit, alleging the president made unwanted advances toward her during a campaign stop, attempting to kiss her on the mouth without consent.
According to The Washington Post, the campaign worker, Alva Johnson, says that Trump grabbed her hand and leaned down to kiss her just after he stepped down from an RV at a Tampa rally in August 2016. Johnson alleges she was surprised by the move and turned her head to attempt to avoid the kiss, but says it landed anyway, on the side of her mouth. She referred to the whole incident as “super-creepy and inappropriate.”
“I immediately felt violated because I wasn’t expecting it or wanting it. I can still see his lips coming straight for my face,” she said.
Johnson says she told her boyfriend, her mother, and her stepfather about the incident later that day, and two months later, she consulted with a Florida lawyer about the incident. The attorney referred her to a therapist whose notes about meeting with Johnson outline an unspecified incident on the campaign that left her upset.
White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders flat-out denied Johnson’s allegations, saying the accusation is “absurd on its face.”
“This never happened and is directly contradicted by multiple highly credible eyewitness accounts,” read Sanders’ statement.
As suggested by Sanders’ statement, two of the people that Johnson names as witnesses to the incident have denied seeing anything.
In the suit, Johnson is seeking damages for emotional pain and suffering in connection with the alleged assault. She is also making a discrimination claim, saying that because she is black, she was paid less than her white counterparts.
“I’ve tried to let it go. 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 claims that the October 2016 release of a video showing Trump boasting about groping women and forcing kisses on them got her to start thinking about going public with her story, as she viewed her violation as part of a larger pattern. She also alleges that the first time she met Trump, at a 2015 Birmingham, Alabama rally, he eyed her from head to toe.
“Oh, beautiful, beautiful, fantastic,” he said, according to the lawsuit.
While Johnson is one of over a dozen women who have accused Trump of sexual misconduct, hers is the first to come out since he’s been in the White House. It’s also the first allegation of misconduct that supposedly took place while Trump was on the campaign trail.