A former Trump campaign staffer is suing President Donald Trump and his campaign, alleging that the then-Republican presidential candidate kissed her without her consent during the 2016 race. She’s also suing over equal pay — claiming that she was paid less for her work based on race and gender.
Alva Johnson, a former Trump campaign staffer who lives in Alabama, alleges in a lawsuit filed Monday that Trump grabbed her hand and forcibly kissed her without her consent inside an RV in Florida in August 2016.
While Trump was meeting with volunteers and signing autographs inside the RV, “Ms. Johnson noticed that Defendant Trump was watching her and appeared to be trying to make eye contact with her,” the lawsuit alleges.
After Donald Trump was alerted by Secret Service that he was due for his next rally, she urged him “to go in there and ‘kick ass.'” Trump then allegedly grasped her hand and praised her efforts.
“As Defendant Trump spoke, he tightened his grip on Ms. Johnson’s hand and leaned towards her. He moved close enough that she could feel his breath on her skin,” the lawsuit states. “Alva Johnson suddenly realized that Defendant Trump was trying to kiss her on the mouth, and attempted to avoid this by turning her head to the right. Defendant Trump kissed her anyway, and the kiss landed on the corner of her mouth.”
Lawsuit accuses Trump of kissing campaign worker without her consent
Alva Johnson said in the lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Florida’s Middle District, that the alleged incident was “part of a pattern of predatory and harassing behavior towards women” by Trump.“This accusation is absurd on its face,” White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said in a statement. “This never happened and is directly contradicted by multiple highly credible eye witness accounts.”
Trump has denied charges by a number of women who said he groped and kissed them over a period of years without permission.
The lawsuit alleges the encounter occurred inside a campaign RV before a rally on Aug. 24, 2016. While leaving a meeting in the vehicle, Trump gripped Johnson by the hand and leaned in so close that she felt his breath, the lawsuit says.
Johnson turned her head, trying to avoid a kiss, but Trump still managed to kiss the corner of her mouth, the lawsuit says. Johnson claims Trump had to move deliberately because her face was framed by a baseball cap.
“She felt confused and humiliated,” the lawsuit said.
High-profile Trump supporters including then-Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi and Trump’s Florida campaign director, Karen Giorno, were in the RV at the time, the lawsuit said. Both told the Washington Post, which first reported the lawsuit, that they saw nothing inappropriate.Johnson is seeking financial damages and a court order to prohibit Trump “from grabbing, kissing or otherwise assaulting or harassing women without prior express consent.”
According to the lawsuit, Johnson called her partner and her parents in tears the day of the encounter with Trump and described what had happened. She said fellow campaign workers subsequently joked about the kiss after Giorno shared details.
In a phone interview on Monday, Johnson’s lawyer, Hassan Zavareei, rejected the White House denial and said the witness accounts were not credible.
He said Alva Johnson, 43, a mother of four living in Alabama, was not available for an interview and worries about her family’s safety as a result of the lawsuit.
The lawsuit said Johnson also experienced discrimination as one of the campaign’s few female and African-American staff members. She earned less than her colleagues and experienced “a larger culture of racist and sexist behavior,” the lawsuit said.