Wednesday 24 April 2019

Ex-campaign worker sues Trump over 'violating kiss'

Eye of the storm: Donald Trump gestures as he speaks at a meeting with US governors at the White House. Photo: Reuters
Eye of the storm: Donald Trump gestures as he speaks at a meeting with US governors at the White House. Photo: Reuters

Chris Riotta

A former campaign staffer who worked on Donald Trump's 2016 election campaign has sued the US president, alleging he kissed her without consent.

Alva Johnson said that she denied Mr Trump's attempts to kiss her outside of a rally in Tampa, Florida, in August 2016.

She allegedly turned her head as he went in for a kiss, causing the future president to place his lips on the side of her mouth.

"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," she said.

The allegations are the most recent claims of sexual harassment to be levelled against the president, after scores of women came forward during the 2016 election with credible claims of assault by Mr Trump.

Ms Johnson's suit is the first to accuse the president of sexual misconduct along the campaign trail, however.

But last night the White House vehemently denied the claims.

"This never happened and is directly contradicted by multiple highly credible eye witness accounts," White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a statement, calling the allegations "absurd on its face".

According to the 'Washington Post', Ms Johnson confided about the alleged incident to several of her family members, all of whom confirmed that they spoke to the former staffer at the time about the ordeal.

An attorney she met with in Florida told the 'Washington Post' that he had found her story to be "credible".

He said that he referred her to a therapist but did not take her case for "business reasons".

Ms Johnson has reportedly named at least two eye-witnesses she said saw the alleged incident who denied seeing the interaction.

One of those eye witnesses is Pam Bondi, the former attorney general of Florida who received a $25,000 (€22,000) donation through a political committee from the Trump Foundation that became a subject of investigation by New York prosecutors.

Ms Johnson filed the federal lawsuit in Florida yesterday, claiming that the president's campaign discriminated against her as a black woman, paying her white male colleagues more than she earned at the time.

The suit demands unspecified damages for emotional pain and suffering, the 'Washington Post' reported.

A campaign spokesperson described Ms Johnson's allegations of discrimination as "off-base and unfounded".

'The Washington Post' detailed a lengthy reporting process that involved reaching out to the former staffer - who said that she contemplated telling her story after the controversial Access Hollywood tapes featured Mr Trump bragging about sexual assault - nearly a year ago.

"I've tried to let it go," she told the newspaper, while reportedly beginning to cry.

"You want to move on with your life.

"I don't sleep. I wake up at four in the morning looking at the news.

"I feel guilty," she said.

"The only thing I did was show up for work one day," she added.

Ms Johnson claimed that she had first met the president at a rally in November 2015, where he looked her up and down before saying, "Oh, beautiful, beautiful, fantastic".

The alleged incident occurred as the president was walking out of a motor vehicle following his rally that was held in Tampa, Florida, in August 2016.

"I've been on the road for you since March, away from my family," Ms Johnson allegedly told the president.

"You're doing an awesome job.

"Go in there and kick ass," she said.

That is when she said that the future president grasped her hand and leaned in for a kiss.

"He's coming straight for my lips," she told the 'Washington Post'.

"So I turn my head, and he kisses me right on corner of my mouth, still holding my hand the entire time," she told the newspaper.

"Then he walks on out," she added.

This isn't the only lawsuit involving sexual misconduct to be levelled against the president.

Summer Zervos, who was a former contestant on the 'Apprentice' show and who has sued Mr Trump in New York, has claimed that he kissed her and groped her forcibly in 2007.

© Independent News Service

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