President Donald Trump is no stranger to legal trouble, and now he can add one more problem to the list. According to a report in The Washington Post published Monday, Feb. 25, Donald Trump allegedly kissed a campaign staffer without her consent as well. Elite Daily reached out to the White House for comment on the claim made against Trump, but did not immediately hear back. This most recent allegation adds to the already dozen-plus similar accusations against him.
Immediately following the news, White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders dismissed the allegation in a statement provided to the Post, calling it "absurd on its face," adding, "This never happened and is directly contradicted by multiple highly credible eye witness accounts."
In a lawsuit filed against Trump and the official Trump campaign, former 2016 staffer Alva Johnson alleges that then-candidate Trump grabbed her by the hand, leaned in, and kissed her while leaving a campaign RV for a Florida rally in August of 2016.
In the lawsuit, Johnson claims that she, Trump, and a group of supporters had gathered in the RV to sign posters. As he passed her to leave, the lawsuit claims the two spoke, and Johnson urged Trump to go "kick ass" at the rally, telling him that she'd spent months on the road away from her family for the campaign. He reportedly acknowledged that she had spent a lot of time away, told her that she was doing a great job, that he wouldn't forget about her, and that he would take care of her. Then, she alleged, he leaned in, close enough that she could "feel his breath on her skin," and attempted to kiss her. The lawsuit claims that Johnson turned her head, and Trump's alleged kiss landed on the side of her mouth.
The lawsuit alleges that two Trump supporters, then-Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi and Florida director for the campaign, Karen Giorno, witnessed the incident. Both told The Washington Post they denied seeing anything inappropriate take place. Johnson's mother, stepfather, and boyfriend all told the Post that Johnson had told them about the alleged incident shortly after it happened. Notes provided from a therapist, per The Post, also mention an event that took place during the campaign that had caused emotional upset to Johnson, though specifics weren't given.
According to the lawsuit, Johnson "was an integral part of the campaign's success," serving as Director of Outreach and Coalitions for the state of Alabama, and was later appointed to the National Strike Team and Operations Administrative Director for Florida. Per the Post, Johnson was registered as a Democrat and voted for Barack Obama in previous elections, but had joined the Trump campaign with the hopes that his agenda would help black communities.
Johnson's allegation adds to the more than a dozen women who have accused Trump of sexual misconduct, including some who have similarly sued him for it, though this is the first accusation to come out after he took office in January 2017. The White House has not responded to Elite Daily's prior requests for comment on the other allegations, and the official White House stance on the allegations is that all Trump's accusers are "lying." Other women who accused Trump were taken into consideration in filing the lawsuit, and though it's not clear to whom it refers, the plaintiff is listed as Johnson, acting "individually and on behalf of all others similarly situated."
The lawsuit opens with a quote from Trump himself, documented in the infamous Access Hollywood tape that was unearthed in October 2016 in which Trump could be heard promoting grabbing women by the genitals.
"I better use some Tic Tacs just in case I start kissing her," Trump said to host Billy Bush during the 2005 reality show appearance. "You know I'm automatically attracted to beautiful — I just start kissing them. It's like a magnet. Just kiss. I don't even wait. And when you're a star, they let you do it." Trump later apologized for his remarks, saying that they didn't reflect who he was.
Johnson also alleges that she was a victim of gender-and race-based pay discrimination by the campaign, and that she was paid less than her white male counterparts. In an emailed statement to Elite Daily, Trump campaign National Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany pushed back on that allegation, saying, "The Trump campaign has never discriminated based on race, ethnicity, gender, or any other basis. Any allegation suggesting otherwise is off base and unfounded." She referred anything further to the statement made by Sanders.
For both allegations listed, Johnson is seeking damages for emotional suffering, as well as "an injunction prohibiting Donald J. Trump from grabbing, kissing, or otherwise assaulting or harassing women without prior express consent."