A lawsuit filed in a North Carolina court on 10 August 2016 alleges that a top aide for GOP nominee Donald Trump pointed a loaded pistol at another campaign staffer.
Vincent Bordini, a former staffer for the Trump campaign, claims that in February 2016 he was riding as a passenger in a Jeep owned by Earl Phillip, the campaign's North Carolina state director, when Phillip suddenly pulled a .45 caliber pistol on him and pressed it to his kneecap.
Phillip's attorney, William H. Harding, denied the allegations and told the Washington Post his client plans to file a counter suit:
As a practical matter, I am dumbfounded by these allegations in that they allege that my client brandished a weapon against Mr. Bordini. However, there is no criminal case pending, or ever a complaint made to any law enforcement officer or agency in North Carolina. Any reasonable person, when faced with these alleged allegations, would have promptly informed law enforcement and allowed our judicial system to prosecute the perpetrator.
In the court filing, Bordini claims he left a South Carolina hotel with Phillip at about 8:40 p.m., climbing into the passenger seat. He claims the two were chit chatting until Phillip drew a gun:
The drive started innocently enough. The two men rolled down the South Carolina roads discussing Mr. Trump's campaign and other political happenings. All of a sudden, Vincent saw Phillip pull a gun from his side of the Jeep ... Phillip then moved the gun toward Vincent. He pointed it at, and then placed its barrel on, Vincent's left knee cap.
The lawsuit claims Phillip pressed the gun into his leg hard enough to crinkle Bordini's blue jeans. Afterward, he says he told several staffers, including an unnamed regional director who said he was "terrified" of Phillip. Vincent also claims he went up the chain of command to Corey Lewandowski, then Trump's campaign manager.
The lawsuit, which seeks monetary damages for emotional distress, claims at least four other staffers reported Phillip had pointed a gun at them. The behavior was so well known that others reportedly knew what kind of gun Phillip owned.
Some described Phillip as initially calm. Then, he would brandish his weapon, put its barrel against their bodies or aim it at them. He would wait for his victims to show fear and then calmly conceal his weapon again.
While Bordini claimed Phillip was not punished, Phillip on 11 August 2016 told the Associated Press he had recently resigned until the lawsuit is "cleared up." The lawsuit says Bordini never went to authorities because he didn't want to hurt Trump's chances of winning the election:
But enough is enough. Guns don’t have to fire to inflict damage. Vincent couldn’t sleep after the incident. If Phillip had flinched, Vincent might have never been able to properly walk again.
Bordini's attorney, Sean Herrmann, told the Post that the situation left his client a "wreck," and added that Bordini was so frightened by the episode that he moved his family to stay with friend temporarily, fearful that Phillip would retaliate.
He said that though Bordini did not want to file the suit, he made the decision to do so because of the campaign's refusal to address the situation.