By Joseph Wulfsohn
Published February 26, 2019
Former Trump campaign staffer Alva Johnson broke down in tears Tuesday night while explaining her accusations that President Trump “forcibly kissed” her during the 2016 election.
Johnson, who has filed a lawsuit against the president, told MSNBC she'd joined the Trump campaign because she believed the White House needed a “businessman” despite thinking he “didn’t have a chance of winning.” She described her role as an “outreach” director in Alabama, where she organized “one of the largest rallies” at the time with then-Sen. Jeff Sessions in attendance.
Johnson said in August 2016, she briefly interacted with then-candidate Trump on an RV during a campaign stop in Florida. Before he stepped off the bus to speak with campaign interns, she told him to “go kick ass” and said she hadn’t seen her family in a very long time. And, after he told her he wouldn’t “let you down,” Johnson said Trump held her hand and began getting closer.
“I just had a lot of internal dialogue. I’m like, ‘okay, is he gonna hug me?’ And then he keeps coming closer. And I’m like, ‘is he gonna hug me?’ I’m like, ‘oh my God, I think he’s going to kiss me’ because he was coming directly towards my face,’” Johnson told MSNBC host Chris Hayes.
The former campaign staffer then said once she realized Trump was going to kiss her, she turned her head, which left his lips touching the corner of her mouth.
“I was just kinda frozen. 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,” Johnson continued. “It was gross and creepy. Like I could sometimes still see those lips.”
“This accusation is absurd on its face. This never happened and is directly contradicted by multiple highly credible eye witness accounts,” White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said Monday.
Johnson rejected Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi’s denial that she witnessed the alleged interaction after naming her as one of two witnesses, insisting Bondi’s statement was “not true.”
Following the alleged interaction, Johnson said she “pushed it” in the back of her mind and continued doing her job, but it wasn’t until the October 2016 release of the “Access Hollywood” tape that prompted her to leave the campaign. “When I heard the audio, I was, like, screaming in my car. I’m like, ‘oh my God, that’s exactly what he did to me.’ Like, he literally described exactly what he did to me, minus the grab the ‘P,’” Johnson said.
She told Hayes she was “afraid” to tell the campaign why she was leaving and that she sought a lawyer as other women came forward with allegations against Trump, but “for business reasons” didn’t carry on with her case.
When asked why she waited so long to bring the lawsuit and for offering praise for the president in 2017 as well as applying for a position at the White House, Johnson pointed to a nondisclosure agreement she signed, which she claimed made it feel like her “vocal cords had been clipped for years.”
Johnson started getting tearful while describing the “guilt” she felt after the 2017 protest violence in Charlottesville, Va., and the separations of migrant families last year.
“Then you have him mocking women with the #MeToo movement, making fun of them and for me, I’m sitting there and I’m like, this is exactly what you did to me, and I don’t want to keep my mouth shut,” an emotional Johnson told Hayes.
Photo courtesy of Erica Aitken Photography -- www.myatlantaphotographer.com