Trump campaign staffer accuses president of attempting to kiss her in lawsuit

A member of Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign has accused the president of attempting to kiss her before a rally, in a lawsuit filed on Monday.

Alva Johnson, 43, claims Mr Trump grabbed her hand and leaned in to kiss her on the lips as he exited a vehicle outside a rally in Tampa, Florida, in 2016. 

Ms Johnson claims she turned away so that the kiss landed on the side of her mouth, calling the experience “super-creepy and inappropriate”.

Sarah Sanders, the White House press secretary, called the allegation “absurd on its face.”  “This never happened and is directly contradicted by multiple highly credible eye witness accounts,” she told the Washington Post.

A number of women have come forward to accuse the president of behaving inappropriately but this is the first allegation against Mr Trump since he entered office.  

Mr Trump is already facing legal action in a defamation case in New York involving Summer Zervos, a former contestant on his reality show The Apprentice, who claims he groped her in 2007. 

Ms Johnson is seeking unspecified damages for the "psychological trauma" and medical expenses incurred by the incident. In the lawsuit, filed in Florida, Ms Johnson also claims the Trump campaign discriminated against her by paying her less than her white male counterparts. A spokeswoman for the campaign has denied that claim, calling it "unfounded".

Ms Johnson, a mother-of-four, said she joined the Trump campaign because she believed his business experience could help black communities. According to her lawsuit, she served as the campaign’s director of outreach and coalitions in Alabama before going on to work as the operations administrative director for the battleground state of Florida. 

She said she met Mr Trump at a rally in November 2015 in Alabama where he "looked her up and down and said, ‘Oh, beautiful, beautiful, fantastic’." She claims she dismissed the comments and took a job with the campaign two months later. 

However the lawsuit claims that she met Mr Trump again in August 2016 when he said he was "going to take care of her". 

The lawsuit goes on to state: "He tightened his grip on Ms Johnson’s hand and leaned towards her. He moved close enough that she could feel his breath on her skin. Ms Johnson suddenly realised that Defendant Trump was trying to kiss her on the mouth, and attempted to avoid this by turning her head to the right. Defendant Trump kissed her anyway, and the kiss landed on the corner of her mouth."

Ms Johnson said she continued to work for the campaign until shortly before the election but decided to take action in the wake of the Me Too movement. 

Her lawsuit describes the alleged incident as part of a larger pattern of behaviour by Mr Trump and lists a string of other women who have publicly accused the president of inappropriate sexual conduct.

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