A former staffer who worked on Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign is accusing the president of kissing her without her consent at a Tampa, Fla. rally.
In a federal lawsuit filed Monday in Florida, Alva Johnson, who is Black, said that the interaction still causes her pain. Johnson told the Washington Post that Trump grabbed her hand and tried to kiss her on the lips as he exited an RV outside the rally on Aug. 24, 2016. Johnson tried to avoid the kiss by turning her head, but it still landed on the side of her mouth.
“I immediately felt violated because I wasn’t expecting it or wanting it,” she said, calling the interaction “super-creepy and inappropriate.” “I can still see his lips coming straight for my face.”
Johnson told her boyfriend, mother, and stepfather about the interaction later that same day. All three confirmed this with the Post.
Although the president has long been publicly accused of sexual misconduct by at least 20 other women, Johnson, the Post notes, is the only one to step forward since he took office, and the only one to allege misconduct during his campaign.
Trump has denied all former allegations and White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders also brushed by Johnson’s allegation calling it “absurd on its face.”
“This never happened and is directly contradicted by multiple highly credible eye witness accounts,” Sanders wrote in a statement.
Johnson said that a campaign official and then-Florida attorney general Pam Bondi both witnessed the interaction, but the two Trump supporters denied ever seeing the kiss.
Johnson is seeking unspecified damages for emotional pain and suffering. The lawsuit also accuses the campaign of discriminating against Johnson due to her race.
I’ve tried to let it go,” she told the Post. “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.”