President Donald Trump’s attorneys released a video this week that they say disproves the claims of a 2016 Trump campaign staffer who is suing the president for battery over what she characterizes as an “unwanted kiss on the mouth.”
Alva Johnson, who worked as an outreach staffer for the Trump campaign, said the incident occurred in Tampa, Florida, inside an RV the president’s campaign used as a mobile office. In court documents reported on by Business Insider, Johnson alleged the president “moved close enough that she could feel his breath on her skin” and then she “suddenly realized … Trump was trying to kiss her on the mouth.” According to Johnson, she “attempted to avoid this by turning her head to the right” but that “Trump kissed her anyways … on the corner of her mouth.”
Trump’s attorneys shared a 15-second video, which shows Trump surrounded by supporters before an August 2016 rally, on Wednesday that purportedly contradicts Johnson’s claim. Writing in a court filing, Trump lawyer Charles Harder said that “the only conclusion a reasonable person could reach” after watching the recording is that the interaction was innocent.
“The Video shows that Plaintiff’s allegations in the Complaint that Mr. Trump ‘forcibly’ kissed her, and kissed her ‘on the mouth,’ are entirely false,” Harder wrote. “In watching the Video, the only conclusion a reasonable person could reach is that the exchange was an innocent moment between a dedicated campaign staffer and the candidate for whom she was working.”
During a deposition on Monday, Johnson confirmed that the video depicts the incident in question, Politico reported.
“That was the day, yes. … That is what happened,” she said.
While the video does not appear to show Trump’s lips kissing the corner of Johnson’s mouth as she alleges in her suit, her attorneys say they are glad the footage was released.
“We are gratified and pleased that we finally have proof what Ms. Johnson has been alleging in this lawsuit,” Hassan Zavareei, one of Johnson’s attorneys, told Politico. “It is basically exactly what Ms. Johnson has been saying.”
“She said Trump was holding her by the hands. In fact, he grabbed her by the shoulders. … Other than that, it’s basically identical to what she alleged,” Zavareei added.
When challenged to explain how the incident in question differed from typical interactions between politicians and supporters at campaign rally events, Zavareei was adamant Trump had crossed the line.
“I don’t regard it as innocuous. … Does it look dramatic? No. That does not mean it wasn’t a serious battery. It’s a battery because she didn’t want it to happen. It’s not an appropriate thing to do to another person,” he said.
Alva Johnson is far from the first woman to accuse Trump of misconduct
A number of women have accused Trump of inappropriate behavior.
He has vehemently and repeatedly denied their claims. Trump’s critics point to past rhetoric, including his infamous “grab ’em by the pussy” remarks, to argue that his mindset towards women is predatory.
Meanwhile, the president’s supporters dismiss the allegations as politically motivated smear attempts bolstered by a media industry that is openly hostile to Trump. They argue that Trump’s critics are blinded by their hatred for the president.
In March, Trump’s liberal detractors criticized him for a seemingly innocuous encounter with a young supporter that took place during a signing ceremony.