Donald Trump's lawyers say the president's video embracing Alva Johnson, a campaign staff member in 2016, refutes allegations that Trump has forcibly kissed her without her consent. Johnson's lawyers say that if nothing else, the video proves that his claims were true.
Far from providing clarification, the 15-second video released Wednesday by Charles Harder, Trump's lawyer, has only led to contradictory interpretations.
In a February trial and an interview with the Washington Post, Johnson claimed that the president had taken her hand and leaned for a kiss before a rally in Florida on August 24, 2016. She turned her head, which led Trump to kiss the side of the mouth, she said, claiming that she was humiliated.
In a lawsuit filed Wednesday in court, Harder called Johnson's complaint "fanciful and frivolous". The video, he explained, shows "mutual innocent – and non-binding interaction".
Trump and his legal team have long denied Johnson's account. In February, Sarah Sanders, press secretary at the White House, then qualified the allegation as "absurd", adding, "This has never happened and is directly contradicted by many very credible testimonials ".
Hassan Zavareei, Johnson's lawyer, said in a statement that the video "corroborates exactly what Alva says."
"Now, if everyone would have felt violated by this is an open question. But Alva was. And she testified exactly why she felt uncomfortable. She testified that she did not really know how to react when it happened and that she was confused and uncomfortable, "he wrote Thursday. "After the release of Access Hollywood, Ms. Johnson was able to contextualize what Trump had done to him and what it meant. Indeed, he told her, with his own words, what exactly is that kiss.
Speaking with The Post earlier this year, Johnson said that she had not fully equated the severity of the meeting until about six weeks after the kiss on October 7, 2016, when The Post released the "Access Hollywood" tape of Trump boasting of kissing. groping and imposing on women.
"You know I'm automatically attracted to the beautiful ones – I start kissing them," Trump said in 2005. "It's like a magnet. Just kiss. I do not even wait. And when you're a star, they let you do it. You can do anything. "
"I felt a stomach ache," Johnson said, adding that she had left the campaign about three weeks before the election. "That's what he did."
Zavareei claimed that Trump and his associates, including Sanders, were dishonest in stating that the incident had never occurred. In a separate document Wednesday after the video was released, Johnson's lawyers claimed that Trump's legal team removed the metadata from the video, preventing Johnson from knowing "who created the video, when and how it was created, as well as other important information about its origins ".
Harder did not return e-mail requesting a comment on Thursday.
In a previous interview with The Washington Post, two Trump supporters identified by Johnson – a campaigner and Pam Bondi, then Attorney General of Florida – denied seeing the kiss. In the short video, allegedly filmed by Brian Hayes, a campaign volunteer, Trump is seen placing both arms on Johnson's shoulders and kissing his right cheek or near it, although he is not sure of it. he does not know if he touches his mouth or not. .
Harder said at the hearing, after the interaction, that "we're going to take you to the White House and I'll see you in February," although the cause is not quite clear in the video.
Johnson is one of 16 women to accuse the president of sexual misconduct. Many charges came after the release of the Access Hollywood band. The last allegation is that of New York writer E. Jean Carroll, who allegedly stated that Trump had sexually assaulted her in a locker room of a department store at the end of 1995 or at the beginning of 1996.
In response, Trump said that Carroll was "totally liar" and "not of my type".
Beth Reinhard contributed to this report.
Trump says the latest accuser, E. Jean Carroll, is "totally liar" and "not my kind"