President Trump criticized “vicious” former aide Omarosa Manigault Newman on Monday after she leaked a secretly recorded phone conversation with him to promote her new book, saying she signed a nondisclosure agreement before she was ousted from the White House and that co-workers “hated her.”
While Ms. Manigault Newman was trashing Mr. Trump as racist and mentally impaired in multiple network interviews, the president referred to his former “Apprentice” co-star on Twitter in equally unflattering terms that made some people wonder aloud why he hired her for a top White House job paying the maximum salary of $179,700. She was the only black West Wing aide receiving the top salary at the time.
“Wacky Omarosa, who got fired 3 times on the Apprentice, now got fired for the last time,” Mr. Trump wrote. “She never made it, never will. She begged me for a job, tears in her eyes, I said Ok. People in the White House hated her. She was vicious, but not smart.”
The president said he heard “really bad things” about Ms. Manigault Newman’s tenure at the White House, which ended in December when Chief of Staff John F. Kelly asked her to leave for what he told her — in another conversation she recorded secretly — were “serious legal issues.”
“Nasty to people & would constantly miss meetings & work,” the president said. “When Gen. Kelly came on board, he told me she was a loser & nothing but problems. I told him to try working it out, if possible, because she only said GREAT things about me — until she got fired!”
The president also took the unusual step of apologizing to Americans for getting into the mud with Ms. Manigault Newman, saying he couldn’t trust the media to cover fairly the spectacle of what Trump allies describe as an embittered, diva-style publicity hound seeking revenge against Mr. Trump and a lucrative payday with her book tour.
“I know it’s ‘not presidential’ to take on a lowlife like Omarosa, and while I would rather not be doing so, this is a modern day form of communication and I know the Fake News Media will be working overtime to make even Wacky Omarosa look legitimate as possible. Sorry!” Mr. Trump tweeted.
The furious pushback by Mr. Trump and the White House preceded the Tuesday release of “Unhinged.” In the book, Ms. Manigault Newman says Mr. Trump told her that he fired FBI Director James B. Comey last year because he “was not loyal.” She also says Mr. Trump keeps a tanning bed in the White House.
She says the president has used a racial slur to describe blacks and asserts that Republican pollster Frank Luntz has heard Mr. Trump use the word.
Mr. Luntz tweeted Monday, “She claims to have heard from someone who heard from me that I heard Trump use the N-word. Not only is this flat-out false (I’ve never heard such a thing), but Omarosa didn’t even make an effort to call or email me to verify. Very shoddy work.”
The mainstream media has flocked to Manigault Newman’s story. The Media Research Center reported that NBC, ABC and CBS devoted an “astonishing” 93 minutes of air time to promoting the book from Friday through Monday morning. NBC offered the greatest amount of time by far — 57 minutes of coverage over the four days, including lengthy exclusive interviews on “Meet the Press” and “Today.”
In three interviews on NBC and its cable network MSNBC, Ms. Manigault Newman said Mr. Trump’s mental faculties have deteriorated noticeably since 2003, when she met him while taping episodes of “The Apprentice.”
“He’s different from the person I met back in 2003,” she said. “He has some serious mental impairment. He would say one thing in the morning. We would go and try to formulate a plan. By that afternoon, he will have tweeted something without telling us completely contradictory from what he said in the morning. It would not help advance the policy that people had worked on for months and months. I saw very early on that he really wasn’t fit to hold the office of the presidency.”
Over the weekend, she released a recording of her meeting with Mr. Kelly in the highly secure White House Situation Room, in which the retired Marine Corps general asked her to resign and called his request “non-negotiable.”
“Gen. Kelly came to me and said that you guys wanted me to leave,” she replied.
“No. Nobody ever told me about it,” Mr. Trump responded. “You know, they run a big operation, but I didn’t know it.
“G— dammit. I don’t love you leaving at all,” he said.
“Is Gen. Kelly running this country, or is the president running this country?” she said.
“Apparently telling the truth wasn’t paying her bills, so she decided to switch her story to try and make a quick buck, and that I just can’t abide by,” Mr. Gidley said on “Fox & Friends.” He called her claim of Mr. Kelly running the White House ridiculous.
“Donald Trump made her. What kind of ingratitude is this?” Mr. Giuliani said.
The president said Ms. Manigault Newman has a “fully signed” nondisclosure agreement that would apparently bar her from revealing details of her White House service. But the American Civil Liberties Union said the president can’t “muzzle” federal employees.
“The First Amendment protects federal employees’ right to speak in a private capacity about matters of public concern,” said ACLU official Brian Hauss. “If such NDAs prohibit employees from revealing all information they learn of at work, without consideration of what the information is, they are unconstitutional and unenforceable.”
“When she left, she said great things about the president,” Mr. Spicer said on C-SPAN. “The first time she has to make money off of him, again, she says quite the opposite. The idea that she brought a personal recording device into the Situation Room says all you need to know about Omarosa. She will do anything to further her own being as opposed to uphold the security protocols that guard our national security.”
Mr. Trump’s former personal attorney, Michael Cohen, who reportedly has turned on the president in special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation, also refuted a claim in Ms. Manigault Newman’s book that he once saw Mr. Trump take a note from him and eat it.
“I saw NO such thing and am shocked anyone would take this seriously,” Mr. Cohen tweeted. The president, who is no longer talking with Mr. Cohen, retweeted it.
Critics and supporters of the president said the episode has raised questions about why Mr. Trump hired Ms. Manigault Newman for a top White House job. Actor James Woods, who is a vocal supporter of Mr. Trump, said on Twitter, “‘When you lie down with dogs, you wake up with fleas.’ … Why was this person EVER allowed in the White House in the first place?”
Asked to respond to Mr. Trump’s tweets about her that she is “vicious” and “not smart,” Ms. Manigault Newman said of the president, “I think it’s sad that, with all the things going on in the country, that he would take time out to insult me and to insult my intelligence. This is his pattern with African-Americans. He doesn’t know how to control himself. He has no impulse control. He doesn’t have the tact for the presidency.”
She said she remained in her post despite her misgivings because she wanted to help the black community.
“Right now, there is no African-American senior staffer in the White House,” she said. “They’re making decisions about us without us. I knew that if I left, this community would suffer. They haven’t even made an effort to fill my position.”
Ms. Manigault Newman, who rejected an offer from the Trump campaign to be paid $15,000 per month, said she “absolutely” has more taped conversations from her time in the White House. She said she is not sure whether she will release any of those tapes.
“They’re threatening legal action,” she said of the Trump team. “I would not accept the $15,000-a-month deal that they offered me to take a fake job on the Trump campaign. I’m expecting they’re going to retaliate. So I’m just going to stand back and wait.
“The president talked often … about how important it was to tape your enemies and to make sure you had information on your enemies.”
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