A former Trump campaign staffer claims in a new lawsuit that the then-presidential candidate forcibly kissed her in 2016.
Alva Johnson says the Republican candidate grabbed her hand and tried to kiss her on the lips during a rally in Tampa, Fla., on Aug. 24, 2016, according to the suit, which was filed Monday and first reported by the Washington Post.
But Johnson turned her head and Trump wound up kissing the side of her mouth, she said.
She called the encounter, which happened as Trump was exiting an RV outside the rally, “super-creepy and inappropriate.”
“I immediately felt violated because I wasn’t expecting it or wanting it,” she told the Washington Post. “I can still see his lips coming straight for my face.”
Johnson, a 43-year-old mom of four who lives in Madison County, Ala., said she first met Trump at a Birmingham rally in November 2015.
“Oh, beautiful, beautiful, fantastic,” he said while looking her up and down, the suit claims.
The event planner didn’t have a background in politics and voted for Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012.
But she believed Trump’s business acumen might help black communities.
Two months after their initial encounter, Johnson became the campaign’s director of outreach and coalitions in Alabama.
In the three months before the election, she was working in Florida, tasked with managing a fleet of vehicles that were used as mobile campaign offices.
It was inside one of those RVs where Trump allegedly planted a kiss on Johnson. She had brought volunteers inside to snap photos with Trump but noticed the married father of five was trying to make eye contact with her, she said in the interview and lawsuit.
As Trump was leaving the RV to attend the rally, Johnson told him, “I’ve been on the road for you since March, away from my family. You’re doing an awesome job. Go in there and kick ass.”
That’s when she claims Trump grabbed her hand, thanked her and leaned forward.
“Oh, my God, I think he’s going to kiss me,” she recalled in the interview. “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.”
Johnson claims two Trump supporters saw the encounter — Karen Giorno, the head of the Florida campaign, and then-Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi. Both denied seeing the alleged kiss.
“Do I recall seeing anything inappropriate? One hundred percent no,” Bondi said in an interview. “I’m a prosecutor, and if I saw something inappropriate, I would have said something.”
Giorno said Johnson’s allegations were “ridiculous” and “that absolutely did not happen.”
But family members and her boyfriend said Johnson told them about the alleged kiss. She continued working for the Trump campaign — even after an offer to work at the New York headquarters was made, then yanked in mid-September, she and campaign officials said.
Johnson is suing Trump and his campaign for emotional pain and suffering and seeking unspecified damages.
Johnson, who is black, also claims she was discriminated against because she was paid less than her white male colleagues.
Kayleigh McEnany, a campaign spokeswoman, called that allegation “off-base and unfounded.”
White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders called Johnson’s claims “absurd on its face.”
“This never happened and is directly contradicted by multiple highly credible eye witness accounts,” Sanders said in a statement.
Relatives of Johnson — her half-sister and her father, who was acting on behalf of a younger half-sister — obtained a temporary restraining order against her in 2006.
They claimed she was calling the younger sister’s school and falsely claiming that the girl was doing drugs. Johnson had been fired from the older sister’s business for allegedly using “company property” to arrange extramarital affairs for herself online, the sister wrote.
The family members withdrew their petition three weeks later.
In September, the case was sealed by a Georgia judge following a request from Johnson and family members.
“These false allegations came in the context of a family dispute that was resolved amicably years ago,” said Johnson’s lawyer Hassan Zavareei. “Ms. Johnson’s family stands firmly behind her pursuit of justice against Donald Trump for the sexual assaults he has committed against Ms. Johnson and so many other women over the course of decades.”
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