A former staffer to President Donald Trump has dropped a lawsuit alleging he kissed her without consent at a 2016 campaign event in Tampa.
But the staffer, Alva Johnson, told CNN she isn’t backing down from her assertion that Trump forcibly kissed her in a campaign bus before a rally at the Florida State Fairgrounds.
“I have made the difficult decision not to pursue my claims at this time,” Johnson said in a statement provided to CNN by her attorney. “I am facing a judge who openly questions whether the kiss is worthy of a federal lawsuit and has determined that Mr. Trump’s history of such behavior is not relevant, and I’ve endured on-going threats to my safety. I’ve decided for the sake of my family that I will not continue with the case at this time.”
Johnson previously told the Washington Post that Trump grabbed her hand to thank her for her work and then leaned in to kiss her on the lips in an RV before the Aug. 24, 2016 Tampa campaign event. She turned her head and he kissed the side of her mouth.
Trump’s legal team released a video of the encounter, insisting it showed a harmless interaction. Johnson’s lawyers said it showed exactly what she described.
Johnson alleged that former Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi saw the encounter and “Bondi gave her a smile as she walked out of the RV,” according to the Post. Bondi told the newspaper that she did not recall it.
“I immediately felt violated because I wasn’t expecting it or wanting it,” she said. “I can still see his lips coming straight for my face.”
The suit also alleged that Johnson, who is black, was paid less than her white, male colleagues.
U.S. District Judge William Jung dismissed Johnson’s case against Trump in June, calling her complaint a “political lawsuit." Johnson’s complain included other allegations of the president groping and kissing women without their consent, including the 2005 “Access Hollywood” recording where Trump boasts he sexually assaulted women. Johnson brought them up in an effort to prove that Trump has demonstrated a pattern of inappropriate behavior with women.
But Jung found the examples irrelevant to her lawsuit and dismissed the case. The judge said Johnson could re-file her complaint but limit it to incidents involving her.
In a motion filed Wednesday, Johnson’s lawyer said she “does not intend to file an amended complaint." The judge ordered the case closed.
Times staff writer Dan Sullivan contributed to this report.