Donald Trump speaking at CPAC 2011 in Washington, D.C. by Gage Skidmore, licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0/Original
President Trump is currently embroiled in a civil suit brought by a former campaign staffer named Alva Johnson. One aspect of it is accusations of pay discrimination but the real blockbuster charge has been that Donald Trump supposedly forced himself on her and kissed her without her consent.
Sounds serious, right? The media have certainly treated it as such, with Johnson being given the red carpet treatment on CNN and MSNBC.
Things just took a dramatic turn though. Trump’s lawyers managed to dig up actual video of the encounter and it essentially vindicates the President. In fact, it makes Johnson look like a malicious liar given that the video appears to show her leaning in and actually kissing him on the cheek.
Here’s the video and it’s readily apparent there was absolutely nothing improper about what happened.
By comparison, here’s how Johnson originally described the encounter in her lawsuit per CNN.
“As Defendant Trump spoke, he tightened his grip on Ms. Johnson’s hand and leaned towards her. He moved close enough that she could feel his breath on her skin,” the lawsuit states. “Ms. Johnson suddenly realized that Defendant Trump was trying to kiss her on the mouth, and attempted to avoid this by turning her head to the right. Defendant Trump kissed her anyway, and the kiss landed on the corner of her mouth.”
In reality, he didn’t come close to mouth to mouth contact as she alleged and it appears he didn’t even actually make mouth to cheek contact. This was simply Trump doing the typical European style greeting you see all over the world. He also did not ever touch her hand at all, much less forcibly tighten his grip on it.
Johnson went so far in interviews as to describe what Trump did to her as being “exactly” the same thing that he described in the Access Hollywood tape that leaked in 2016.
For their part, Johnson’s lawyers are laughably claiming this vindicates them somehow by proving they did meet. Yes, Trump has said in the past he doesn’t know who she is. That’s completely consistent with the fact that this is 1) the only time they interacted and 2) she was one of thousands of staffers across the country. Of course he wouldn’t recall who she was.
I’ll also note that Johnson herself never described the encounter as problematic until much later, saying that she hadn’t realized he’d committed battery against her until she saw others come forward during the #metoo movement. Yes, she is alleging what’s in that video is battery.
Look, I’m all for giving victims room to prove their case without being attacked but this lawsuit is complete garbage. It’s a reminder of how false accusations can be wielded against people in powerful positions and why skepticism is warranted in all cases.
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