Just as Washington was wrapping its brain around the news that ex-White House staffer Omarosa Manigault Newman secretly recorded her firing in the Situation Room, she revealed she also taped a conversation she says she had with Trump afterward.
Manigault Newman, whose tell-all book “Unhinged” is out Tuesday, shared the new tape during an interview on Monday’s episode of NBC’s “Today.” In it, Trump expresses surprise about her dismissal, saying, “nobody told me about it.”
While the latest recording appears to show Trump was unaware of the firing, Manigault Newman speculated that Trump may have instructed Kelly to fire her, but offered no evidence to back up her theory. The White House, which offered stinging criticism over the weekend, did not immediately respond to questions on the new recording.
Manigault Newman hinted there was more to come, saying: “There’s a lot of very corrupt things happening in the White House and I am going to blow the whistle on a lot of them.”
“If I didn’t have these recordings, no one in America would believe me,” Manigault Newman said Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” where she was promoting “Unhinged.” “I am so glad that I did because now we can put to bed all those false rumors,” she added.
Yet, by admitting to recording conversations in the Situation Room, she may have opened herself up to legal problems by violating national security protocol.
“Meet the Press” aired brief parts of the taped conversation, which included Kelly speaking to Manigault Newman about her reputation and some “pretty serious integrity violations” against her.
“If we make this a friendly departure we can all … look at your time here in the White House as a year of service to the nation without any difficulty in the future relative to your reputation,” Kelly said on the tape.
In response to the clip, Manigault Newman, 44, told Chuck Todd that Kelly was trying to threaten her into silence.
“The chief of staff … under the direction of the president of the United States threatening me on damage to my reputation and things getting ugly for me. That is downright criminal,” she said.
During the interview, Manigault Newman called President Trump a “con,” a “liar” and a “racist,” doubling down on her claim that the current administration does not care about African-Americans. Her comments come a day after Trump called “The Apprentice” alum a “low life.”
“I was the only African-American at the table. … People are making decisions about us, without us,” she said. “When I left … I realized they can care less about African-Americans at the table.”
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Manigault Newman acknowledged she was “complicit” while defending Trump in the past.
“Being used by Donald Trump for so long, I was like the frog in the hot water,” she said. “I was complicit with this White House deceiving this nation. They continue to deceive this nation by how mentally declined he is.”
Todd also addressed allegations that President Trump said the N-word on tape.
In her book, Manigault Newman wrote that she heard people describe Trump using the racial slur, although she had not personally heard it. However, she told Todd on Sunday that she was able to hear the tape for herself after her book published. (During a Friday interview with NPR, she made it sound as though she’d written in the book that she’d heard the tape. She did not, according to a USA TODAY editor who read an advance copy.)
“I heard his voice as clear as you and I are sitting here,” Manigault Newman told Todd.
The White House responded to Manigault Newman’s appearance on “Meet the Press,” referring to her as a “disgruntled former White House employee.”
In a statement, 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.”.
For the White House chief of staff to conduct such a meeting – especially with an employee whose job is not related to national security – in the Situation Room rather than his office is unusual. However, if Kelly suspected that she was indeed recording conversations, he may have felt she would be less likely to do so there since staffers are usually required to hand over their phones before entering.
A number of people were quick to call Manigault Newman’s secret recordings a breach of national security and a possible violation of the law.
Former White House press secretary Sean Spicer told Fox News Sunday that the audio clips are “a massive violation of every security protocol.” Ronna McDaniel, chairwoman of the Republican National Committee, suggested Manigault Newman violated the law and “should be prosecuted.”
“I’ve never heard of a more serious breach of protocol,” said Ned Price, who served as spokesman of the National Security Council in the Obama administration, told the Associated Press. “Not only is it not typical, something like this is unprecedented … The Situation Room is the inner-most sanctum of a secure campus.”
Katrina Pierson, an adviser to Trump’s re-election campaign who served as a spokeswoman for his 2016 campaign, told the Associated Press that she feels “pity for Omarosa as she embarrasses herself by creating salacious lies and distortions just to try to be relevant and enrich herself by selling books at the expense of the truth.”
“‘Unhinged,’ indeed,” she said.
It is not clear if Manigault Newman will face any charges.
Manigault Newman — who is widely known by her first name only — is best known as the villain of Trump’s “Apprentice” and “Celebrity Apprentice” television franchise, portraying the contestant viewers loved to hate.
She followed Trump from his reality television show to his presidential campaign, emerging as one of his most fiercely loyal supporters. She was rewarded with a top White House job when Trump won the White House.
Manigault Newman’s official title was assistant to the president and director of communications for the Office of Public Liaison. She made $179,700, the top salary allowed by law for White House aides.
The “Apprentice” alum was the most prominent African-American face of Trump’s White House, working on outreach to historically black colleges and universities and racial disparities in the military justice system.
But it was her social life that more often grabbed headlines. She married Florida pastor John Allen Newman at Trump’s Washington hotel in April 2017, reportedly using the White House as a backdrop for her wedding photos. According to her financial disclosure form, her $25,000 dress was provided by TLC’s “Say Yes to the Dress,” in exchange for her appearance on the reality show.
Manigault Newman left the White House in December 2017, but the circumstances surrounding her departure weren’t disclosed at the time.
Contributing: The Associated Press and Gregory Korte