Does this video prove Trump inappropriately kissed a 2016 campaign worker or vindicate him?

Video of Trump kissing campaign volunteer
(Image credit: Harder LLP via The Washington Post)

Lawyers for President Trump released a 15-second video clip they say clears Trump of allegations that he forcibly kissed a campaign staffer, Alva Johnson, without her consent before an August 2016 rally in Tampa, Florida. Lawyers for Johnson, who quit the campaign a few weeks later, after watching Trump's infamous Access Hollywood sexual assault confessional, say the video corroborates her account that Trump grabbed her hand, leaned in for a kiss on the mouth, and landed the kiss nearby on her cheek after Johnson turned her head at the last second.

In February, when Johnson sued Trump, she called the encounter "super creepy and inappropriate" and said, "I immediately felt violated because I wasn't expecting it or wanting it. I can still see his lips coming straight for my face." Far from "providing clarity" about what really happened, The Washington Post notes, "the 15-second video released Wednesday by Charles Harder, an attorney for Trump, only led to conflicting interpretations."

Harder said in a court filing Wednesday that Johnson's claim is "unmeritorious and frivolous" and the video proves the encounter was an "innocent interaction that is mutual — and not forcible." Johnson's lawyer, Hassan Zavareei, responded in a statement that that the video "corroborates exactly what Alva said." It's "an open question" whether "everybody would have felt violated" by Trump actions, he added. "But Alva was. And she testified exactly why she felt uncomfortable. She testified that she didn't really know how to react when it happened and that she was confused and uncomfortable."

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Zavareei also said former White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders and other Trump supporters were dishonest when they claimed the incident never happened. And Johnson's lawyers said that because Trump's team removed all metadata, Johnson can't know "who created the video, when it was created, and other important information about its origins." The video was apparently shot by a campaign volunteer, the Post reports.

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Peter Weber

Peter Weber is a senior editor at, and has handled the editorial night shift since the website launched in 2008. A graduate of Northwestern University, Peter has worked at Facts on File and The New York Times Magazine. He speaks Spanish and Italian and plays bass and rhythm cello in an Austin rock band. Follow him on Twitter.