Former Trump campaign staffer alleges that he forcibly kissed her after a rally in 2016
Johnson, who filed a lawsuit against Trump, told the outlet that Trump grabbed her hand and leaned in to kiss her on the lips as came out of an RV outside a rally in Tampa, Florida on August 24, 2016.
A former staffer on President Donald Trump's campaign, Alva Johnson, on Monday alleged that the president forcibly kissed her at a Florida rally during his 2016 presidential campaign run.
Johnson, while speaking to The Washington Post in an interview, alleged: "I immediately felt violated because I wasn't expecting it or wanting it. I can still see his lips coming straight for my face." Johnson, who filed a lawsuit against Trump, told the outlet that Trump grabbed her hand and leaned in to kiss her on the lips as he came out of an RV outside a rally in Tampa, Florida on August 24, 2016. The former staffer said that she turned her head and the kiss landed on the side of her mouth, the 48-year-old called the incident "super-creepy and inappropriate."
Johnson's allegations were dismissed by the White House press secretary Sarah Sanders, who called the accusation "absurd on its face." "This never happened and is directly contradicted by multiple highly credible eye witness accounts," Sanders told The Post.
Johnson, a mother-of-four, said that she told her boyfriend, mother and stepfather about the incident later that day and all three of them confirmed the same told the newspaper. "'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," she said.
Multiple women have accused Trump of inappropriate conduct which occurred before and in the closing weeks of his campaign in 2016, however, Johnson is the first woman to come forward ever since he took office. Johnson worked as Trump campaign's director of outreach and coalitions in Alabama, however, she was assigned to Florida three months before the election, where her job was to manage the RVs that traveled the state as mobile campaign offices.
In her lawsuit, Johnson detailed how things unfolded on the rainy August day after Trump had secured his GOP nomination at the party's nominating convention. When Trump arrived at the rally site, "campaign staff ushered him inside the RV to get him out of the rain," and the Florida campaign staff followed him inside, including Johnson.
She also brought volunteers into the RV to meet Trump, he talked with them, took pictures and shook their hands. The 48-year-old then noticed that Trump was "watching her and appeared to be trying to make eye contact with her." Johnson said that as he was about to leave to go to the rally, she spoke to 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."
She added that Trump took her hand, thanked her for her work and leaned in. "Oh, my God, I think he's going to kiss me," she recalled her reaction while speaking to The Post. "He's coming straight for my lips. So I turn my head, and he kisses me right on the corner of my mouth, still holding my hand the entire time. Then he walks on out." Johnson added that the director of the Florida campaign, Karen Girono, and the then Florida attorney general witnessed the incident, however, they denied seeing the alleged kiss when The Post asked them.
"Do I recall seeing anything inappropriate? One hundred percent no," Bondi told the newspaper. "I'm a prosecutor, and if I saw something inappropriate, I would have said something." While Giorni said that the allegation was "ridiculous."
Trump grabbed a woman and forced himself on her? You mean like he says he does all the time? Because when you’re a star they let you do it?— Virginia Heffernan (@page88) February 25, 2019
Good for Alva Johnson. https://t.co/0WEFfT6jcH
The 48-year-old has filed a federal lawsuit, seeking damages for emotional pain and suffering. Johnson, who is African American, is also suing the Trump campaign for discrimination, claiming she was paid less than her white male counterparts. "Not only did Ms. Johnson endure forcible kissing by her boss, she experienced race and gender discrimination as one of the few females and one of only a handful of African American people on the campaign payroll. Ms. Johnson was paid less than white employees, including both staff with similar duties and lower-ranked staff," the suit claims.
"She was also paid less than similarly situated male employees. Indeed, the Campaign's pattern of underpaying female staffers is well documented. For this reason, Ms. Johnson seeks to bring this case as a collective action on behalf of female Campaign employees who suffered unlawful pay discrimination," it alleges.
Johnson's attorney, Hassan A. Zavareei, in a news release, said that there was a reason why his client has now spoken about it. “When she saw what her work on the campaign had wrought—a president who mocks the #MeToo movement and undermines the dignity of the office with his sexist and racist behavior—she decided to seek justice.”