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July 24, 2024
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Ex-campaign staffer who said Donald Trump forced a kiss drops suit

A former campaign staffer for President Donald Trump who claimed that he “forcibly kissed” her before a Florida rally in 2016 told a judge she’s abandoning her lawsuit over the alleged encounter.

Alva Johnson, an African-American woman who was a senior campaign worker, said in a court filing Thursday that she wouldn’t amend the complaint that was dismissed in June. The judge who threw out the suit had given her an opportunity to revise it.

Johnson claimed in her February lawsuit that Trump grasped her hand tightly and tried to kiss her on the mouth in a recreational vehicle before a rally in Tampa she had helped to organize. She also claimed that she was illegally underpaid by the campaign because of her gender and race.

Then-White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said at the time that the allegation was “absurd” and that Johnson’s account was contradicted by multiple witnesses, including former Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi.

A cell-phone video posted online by Trump’s attorney, Charles Harder, shows Trump greeting Johnson in a crowded room filled with staffers waiting to shake his hand. In the video, Trump appears to give Johnson a brief kiss on the cheek while holding her shoulders. During the encounter, Johnson smiles and expresses her desire for Trump to win the election.

Hassan Zavareei, Johnson’s lawyer, said Thursday in a statement that the video supports his client’s claim and said Trump’s witnesses weren’t being truthful. He said his client nevertheless decided not to amend the complaint.

“I’ve decided for the sake of my family that I will not continue with the case at this time,” Johnson said in an emailed statement. “Let’s be clear, I reject the false narrative that Trump and his campaign did nothing wrong. But it is now time for me to move on.”

The White House declined to comment. Harder said in an emailed statement that Trump had been vindicated by Johnson’s decision and that the president may sue her for breaching a non-disclosure agreement by discussing the campaign.

“The president and campaign are weighing their legal options against Ms. Johnson at this time, and have demanded that she reimburse them for the attorneys’ fees and costs they incurred in her failed lawsuit,” Harder said in the statement.

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