A video filed in the lawsuit involving a former campaign staffer who claims President Donald Trump tried to kiss her during a 2016 Tampa rally shows their interaction was much more innocent than the woman alleges, according to Trump’s lawyers.
The lawsuit centers on an incident that occurred on Aug. 24, 2016, at the Florida State Fairgrounds. Alva Johnson, a staffer who helped organize the campaign stop, says she was inside a recreational vehicle with the then-presidential candidate when he grabbed her hand when he leaned in to kiss her on the lips.
But the video, which Trump’s lawyers posted online Wednesday, depicts Johnson and Trump having a short conversation amid a crowd of people inside the cramped RV. They exchange a light embrace and their cheeks touch briefly. Johnson smiles.
A court paper that accompanied the video states that Johnson told Trump, “We’re going to get you in the White House. I‘ll see you in February.” It was the one and only time the pair ever spoke or had physical contact, according to the court filing.
If Johnson was battered, as she has claimed in her lawsuit, “one would expect a far different response than telling him she’ll help him get elected President of the United States,” Trump’s attorney Charles Harder wrote. “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.”
The lawyer called Johnson’s claim “unmeritorious and frivolous.”
In a motion filed Wednesday, Johnson’s lawyers accused Trump’s team of mischaracterizing the video. Even so, they said, the footage shows “exactly what Ms. Johnson alleged happened to her: an unwanted kiss from Defendant Trump.”
They also wrote that Trump’s team stripped the video of its metadata, making it impossible for them to determine details about its origins, including who created it and when.
“Trump and his team can spin this however they want,” Johnson’s lawyer, Hassan Zavareei said in a statement. “But the reality is that if this was vindication for the President, they wouldn’t have hidden it as long as they did.”
In addition to the battery claim, Johnson has alleged that while working on the Trump campaign, she was paid less than her white male colleagues.
Last month, U.S. District Judge William Jung dismissed the case, calling it a “political lawsuit.”