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."
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. Peter Weber
In an interview with British newspaper The Sun before leaving for his state visit to Britain, President Trump said of American-born British royal Meghan Markle, "I didn't know that she was nasty." Britain took that as Trump calling their newest duchess "nasty," but Trump called that "fake news" on Sunday, tweeting a denial that, for some reason, blamed CNN and The New York Times for reporting his remark.
I never called Meghan Markle “nasty.” Made up by the Fake News Media, and they got caught cold! Will @CNN, @nytimes and others apologize? Doubt it!
In any case, The Sun recorded their conversation with Trump, and there is tape of Trump's comment.
So who are you going to believe, Trump or a tabloid owned by Rupert Murdoch's News Corp.? In any case, the Duchess of Sussex will not be among the royals who dine with Trump at Buckingham Palace on Monday or lunch with him on Tuesday — she will be spending maternity leave with her three-week-old son, Archie. "I didn't know that," Trump told The Sun. "I hope she is okay." He added later that as a royal, "I am sure she will do excellently." Peter Weber
Six days into a partial government shutdown, with no end in sight, 47 percent of American adults blame President Trump, according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll released Thursday. Thirty-three percent of adults blame Democrats and another 7 percent place responsibility for congressional Republicans. Trump said on camera two weeks ago that he would be "proud to shut down the government" if the Democratic minority didn't agree to give him $5 billion for his proposed $23 billion border wall, but after Democrats refused, Trump has been using Twitter to try to unload the blame.
Americans don't appear to agree with Trump on the merits of the argument, though — only 35 percent of adults said they wanted money for the wall included in a spending bill, and just 25 percent of respondents backed Trump's position that shutting down the government was better than accepting no wall funding. The poll was conducted Dec. 21-25 among 2,400 adults across the U.S. It has a credibility interval of 2 percentage points. Peter Weber