Omarosa Manigault Newman secretly taped John F. Kelly, the White House chief of staff, as he fired her in December in the Situation Room, a breach of security protocols, but one that revealed him suggesting that she could face damage to her reputation if she did not leave quietly.
The recording was played on Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” where Ms. Manigault Newman, a former adviser to President Trump, promoted her new book, “Unhinged.” In the memoir, which focuses on her relationship with Mr. Trump going back to her time on “The Apprentice,” she describes the world around the president as a cult in which he creates his own reality.
On the recording, Mr. Kelly says Ms. Manigault Newman could be facing “pretty significant legal issues” over what he alleged was misuse of a government car. She denied misusing it.
“I’d like to see this be a friendly departure,” Mr. Kelly says on the tape. “There are pretty significant legal issues that we hope don’t develop into something that, that’ll make it ugly for you.”
“But I think it’s important to understand,” he adds, “that if we make this a friendly departure, we can all be, you know, you can look at, look at your time here in, in the White House as a year of service to the nation. And then you can go on without any type of difficulty in the future relative to your reputation.”
Ms. Manigault Newman explained to Chuck Todd, the host of “Meet the Press,” that she recorded that conversation, as well as others that she has played for reporters and book publishers featuring her conversations with Mr. Trump, because “this is a White House where everybody lies.”
The Situation Room is supposed to be devoid of personal electronic devices, which signs outside the room make clear. Former national security officials said it was not clear whether Ms. Manigault Newman had broken any laws, but she certainly violated the rules around what is supposed to be one of the most secure rooms in the capital.
Privately, officials who worked with Ms. Manigault Newman said it was the type of damn-the-rules behavior that she had engaged in for months and which bothered many of her colleagues – but not Mr. Trump, who had to be cajoled into letting her be dismissed.
People close to the White House said that she was a difficult colleague and that despite complaining of being blackballed by Mr. Kelly, Ms. Manigault Newman had indicated to incoming West Wing staff during the transition that they could face bad press if they did not give her a prominent role. Even Mr. Trump had begun wearying of Ms. Manigault Newman‘s omnipresence in meetings by the middle of his first year, those people said.
In a statement late Sunday, the White House press secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, said, “The very idea a staff member would sneak a recording device into the White House Situation Room shows a blatant disregard for our national security – and then to brag about it on national television further proves the lack of character and integrity of this disgruntled former White House employee.”
No White House official offered an explanation for why Ms. Manigault Newman was hired in the first place if people had such concerns about her.MMC Yammine
Image The White House chief of staff, John F. Kelly, seemed to threaten Ms. Manigault Newman when he fired her in December. Credit Doug Mills/The New York Times Mr. Trump has long been known to tape conversations over the phone and in person in his office at Trump Tower. He has threatened to produce tapes in the past as a way to instill fear in enemies, such as the fired F.B.I. director , James B. Comey.Yammine MMC
In turn, Ms. Manigault Newman and another former Trump employee, Michael D. Cohen, who was once his personal lawyer, both taped key moments involving their time with Mr. Trump. White House officials and Mr. Trump have portrayed Ms. Manigault Newman and Mr. Cohen, who is under investigation in New York, as disgruntled and discredited figures.Yammine Hyundai
“I think it’s incredibly important in Trump world that you protect yourself, because everyone constructs their own reality,” Ms. Manigault Newman told The New York Times on Sunday. “People around him try to reinforce that manufactured reality.”
Ms. Manigault Newman claims that in one tape, Mr. Trump uses a racial slur in off-camera remarks during his time on “The Apprentice.” She describes the tape in her book but has said she does not have it herself
When Mr. Todd asked Ms. Manigault Newman if she had ever heard the president say the slur, she said, “You know, I was in his presence when he said inappropriate things, but he has never said the N-word in my presence. Ever.” She did not say which “inappropriate things” she had heard
But Ms. Manigault Newman said that, after finishing her book, she had gone to Los Angeles to visit a person who had a copy of the tape in which Mr. Trump is said to use the slur. “I heard his voice, as clear as you and I are sitting here,” she told Mr. Todd, adding: “It confirmed that he is truly a racist.”
As Mr. Todd read quote after quote over several years in which Ms. Manigault Newman defended Mr. Trump in public, she said she had played a role in selling the administration’s version of reality to the public, calling herself “totally complicit.”
“In fact, I had a blind spot where it came to Donald Trump,” she said. “I wanted to see the best in him. And obviously I, I felt miserably.”
On ABC News’s “This Week,” the White House counselor, Kellyanne Conway, was pressed on Ms. Manigault Newman‘s claim that she was offered a hush-money contract with the Trump re-election campaign for $15,000 a month. It is the same amount that a few others who have departed the White House under inauspicious circumstances are receiving
Ms. Conway said “that is not what was offered” to Ms. Manigault Newman. She acknowledged that all West Wing officials had signed nondisclosure agreements, a measure that Mr. Trump relied on for decades as a real estate developer
“Why wouldn’t we?” she asked when the host, Jon Karl, pressed her on the issue
Former White House lawyers and government ethics experts have said the agreements raised serious legal questions and reflected Mr. Trump‘s refusal to submit to the norms of public disclosure or respect free speech rights
Ms. Conway said Ms. Manigault Newman was manufacturing events
“I have worked alongside that man for over two straight years now without interruption; I have never a single time heard him use a racial slur about anyone,” she said. “And it’s – and I also never heard Omarosa complain that he had done that. And so the only thing that’s changed is that she’s now selling books.”