Attorneys for President Donald Trump released video of an interaction between then-candidate Trump and a campaign worker, disputing her claim he subjected her to unwanted kissing.
Alva Johnson, the campaign's Operations Administrative Director in the state of Florida, filed a lawsuit in February alleging that in 2016, "Defendant Trump violated norms of decency and privacy by kissing Ms. Johnson on the lips without her consent in the middle of a Florida work event." Johnson repeated the claim in several media interviews, claiming that just as Trump was about to kiss her lips, she turned her head and he only caught the corner of her mouth.
"I was just kinda frozen," Johnson told MSNBC's Chris Hayes in one typical interview. "I didn’t know how to process it. I knew it was inappropriate because I worked in human resources. So I knew that it was completely inappropriate. It was gross and creepy. Like I could sometimes still see those lips."
In the 15-second cellphone video released Wednesday by Trump attorney Charles J. Harder, Johnson tells Trump "I left my family for eight months for you," and laughs. Trump appears to go for a cheek kiss, not the lip kiss her lawsuit alleged. After the kiss, Johnson smiles and repeats "Eight months for you," and follows up, "We're going to get you in the White House. I'll see you in February."
"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—who was appreciative that she had just spent eight months away from her family on the campaign trail for his campaign," Harder wrote in a court filing.
"If Plaintiff had been attacked, as she alleges, one would expect a far different response than telling him she'll help him get elected President of the United States. That is the response of a person who is moved in a positive way by her candidate's show of appreciation and recognition of her dedicated service to his campaign."
Johnson's attorney Hassan Zavareei does not dispute that the video depicts the moment Johnson described, but claimed that the video actually vindicated his client's claims.
"We are gratified and pleased that we finally have proof what Ms. Johnson has been alleging in this lawsuit," he 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."