During the 2016 presidential campaign, more than a dozen women accused then-presidential candidate Donald Trump of sexual harassment and assault. And in his time in office, the White House has continued to dismiss those allegations. But on February 25th, one of the president’s former campaign staffers brought new claims of sexual misconduct against him. In a new report from The Washington Post, Alva Johnson alleges that Trump kissed her without her consent at a Tampa rally in August 2016. She told the Post that the then-candidate leaned forward to kiss her on the lips, but she turned her head so that the kiss landed on the side of her mouth.
In terms of why she has decided to come forward, Johnson’s attorney, Hassan Zavareei, told The Daily Beast, “She feels partly responsible for helping put a sexual predator into the White House, and she believes she has an obligation to tell her story and to hold him accountable for what he’s done to her but to so many other women.” Meanwhile, in a statement to the Post reminiscent of the White House’s past statements on the subject, Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders dismissed the new accusation as “absurd on its face.”
Three of Johnson’s family members confirmed to the Post that she had told them about the incident the same day, but two witnesses Johnson identified denied seeing the kiss take place.
According to The New Yorker, Johnson, who is black, filed a lawsuit against Trump in a federal court in Florida today, arguing that she was subjected to “racial and gender discrimination” on the campaign. In addition to the reported sexual misconduct, she claimed that she was paid less than white and male staffers. She also claimed that other staffers’ comments about race made her feel uncomfortable. The Post notes that she is seeking monetary damages for “emotional pain and suffering.”
HuffPost reports that Johnson is at least the 22nd woman to make accusations against Trump; one of Trump’s other accusers, Summer Zervos, has filed a defamation lawsuit against him. It’s never easy to come forward against an abuser or assailant—especially when he’s one of the most powerful men in the world. We stand with Trump’s accusers and with all survivors of sexual harassment or assault.
If you or someone you know has been sexually assaulted, contact the National Sexual Assault Telephone Hotline at 1-800-656-4673.