Both Sides Claim Vindication After Vid Surfaces Showing Trump Kissing Accuser

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July 11, 2019 4:04 p.m.
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It was a rare piece of evidence in what are usually he-said-she-said cases: Video.

In this case, video of then-candidate Donald Trump kissing a campaign staffer in an RV in Tampa, Florida, on August 24, 2016.

Alva Johnson sued Trump in February, alleging the kiss was “forcible” and amounted “to common law battery.” She also alleged gender and racial discrimination.

But the video itself, filmed by a campaign volunteer on his cellphone, only surfaced this week, setting off a battle between both sides over what exactly it showed, and whether it had been handled properly.

Trump’s lawyers first made the video public Wednesday in a court filing. They claim it shows an “innocent … mutual” interaction. Johnson’s attorneys quickly fired back, asserting again that it showed “an unwanted kiss from Defendant Trump.”

By releasing the video in the first place, via a link to attorney Charles Harder’s website in the third paragraph of a lengthy filing, Trump’s attorneys injected the evidence directly into the bloodstream of the video-oriented media world their client knows so well. As both sides claimed it proved their own narratives about Johnson’s battery allegation, the battle over the significance of the clip spawned a number of highly conflicting headlines.

RawStory: 

Business Insider:

Politico:

Daily Caller:

Washington Examiner:

Johnson’s lawyers, responding to the most newsworthy development in the case in months, expressed validation at the moments displayed on camera, at the same time faulting Trump’s attorneys for their handling of the evidence.

While the clip showed Johnson had misremembered some “minor details” Johnson’s lawyers wrote, “the video shows exactly what Ms. Johnson alleged happened to her.” 

The video was given to Johnson’s lawyers by Trump’s team as part of pre-trial discovery in the case, according to the court filings.

Johnson legal team was perturbed about the way in which the video was provided, claiming it was designed to “sandbag” Johnson at a recent deposition. The video was provided July 5, “over a holiday weekend” and just days before Johnson’s deposition, her lawyers said. The 15 seconds in question were “buried deep” in the seventh hour of a nearly nine-hour video file, which was full of other unrelated clips from various local news reports and first-person cell phone recordings. 

Trump’s team, meanwhile, pointed to the July 8 deposition in which Johnson confirmed that the video showed the incident in question. Trump’s lawyers argued the clip “proves that Plaintiff and her counsel have lied repeatedly to this Court” regarding details she recalled about the incident, from the direction her head turned when Trump embraced her to specific dialogue between them

Johnson, they wrote later, “knows full well that her battery claim is frivolous.”

They asked the federal judge handling the case to block a deposition of Trump and protect the President from Johnson’s “irrelevant” and “oppressive” written discovery requests.

For his part, Trump swore in a filing, “I do not know plaintiff Alva Johnson or recall having any interactions with her.”

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