Alva Johnson, the former Trump campaign aide who accused President Trump of forcibly kissing her during a campaign stop in 2016, dropped her lawsuit on Wednesday, weeks after video emerged casting doubt on her allegations.
Johnson, 44, sued Trump and the campaign on Feb. 25 for gender and race pay discrimination, as well as battery. She alleged that during a visit to Florida on Aug. 24, 2016, Trump grabbed her forcefully and kissed her against her will.
Judge William Jung dismissed Johnson’s case on June 14, saying that it was a “political lawsuit” rather than a “tort and wages” lawsuit. Jung said that Johnson could amend her complaint if she wanted, but Johnson decided on Wednesday not to proceed with the case.
In the suit, Johnson claimed that Trump treated her like a “sexual object that he felt entitled to humiliate and dominate.”
Johnson alleged that during their encounter, Trump “tightened his grip” on her, getting so close that “she could feel the breath on her skin.” She also said that Trump tried to kiss her on the mouth, but that she turned her head to avoid it.
“Defendant Trump kissed her anyway, and the kiss landed on the corner of her mouth,” Johnson alleged.
But Trump’s lawyers released a video of the incident on July 11 that undercut some of Johnson’s story.
The footage shows Trump and Johnson on an RV surrounded by campaign officials and staffers. Johnson is heard off-camera initiating conversation with Trump, who responds by approaching Johnson and placing his hands on her shoulders and quickly pecking her on the cheek, rather than the corner of the mouth.
Johnson responds in the video, saying that “we’re going to get you in the White House and I’ll see you in February.”
Trump lawyer Charles Harder said in a July 11 court filing that the entire encounter, which lasted several seconds, showed an “innocent interaction that is mutual — and not forcible.”
“If Plaintiff had been attacked, as she alleges, one would expect a far different response than telling him she’ll help him get elected President of the United States,” added Harder, who noted that Johnson unsuccessfully sought a White House job.
“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.”
Johnson claimed in an interview with The Daily Beast on Wednesday that she decided to let the lawsuit lapse rather than “fighting against a person with unlimited resources.”
“That’s a huge mountain to climb,” she said.
Johnson also told the website that she felt vindicated by the video released by Trump’s lawyers.
“He has proven to be great at propaganda,” Johnson said of Trump. “They do a great job of changing the narrative, even when we see things with our own eyes.”
Johnson received positive press coverage after she filed her lawsuit. Ronan Farrow of The New Yorker wrote about her case, and Johnson appeared for an interview with MSNBC’s Chris Hayes. Neither Hayes nor Farrow have addresses Johnson’s case since the video emerged.
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