Omarosa Manigault Newman Taped Her Firing by John Kelly

Omarosa Manigault Newman said that she had recorded conversations because “this is a White House where everybody lies.”

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.

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Omarosa’s White House Show Is Canceled

Love her or hate her, the former reality show star turned White House aide has never shied away from controversy.

“I’m an African-American woman. You get to walk around and be mediocre and you still get rewarded with things. We have to be—” “—and he brings me such joy and I hope that you one day you can find that kind of joy, Joy, in your life.” This is Omarosa Manigault Newman. “—inner city issues issues, issues in the economy—” “How do we go from Iraq to Black Lives Matter? Stay focused Tamara.” “Um—” Love her or hate her, the former reality show star turned White House aide has never shied away from controversy. She became known as the villain on “The Apprentice” and “The Celebrity Apprentice,” where she got fired three times by Donald Trump. “Life is full of problems. You’re fired.” During the campaign, Newman was responsible for outreach in the African-American community and her loyalty to Trump landed her a spot in the West Wing. “Every detractor will have to bow down to President Trump.” Trump made her director of communications for the Office of Public Liaison, a role that confounded many. There were reports that Newman had an ill-defined job and often dropped into meetings uninvited. She’s outspoken and has sparred with the press. “I will tell my story—” “I allowed you— Ask a question about me, about my brother, about my fa— Yes, that’s what they invited me to talk about. In some ways, she’s a bit like the president: When someone punches— “Tamara says that Donald Trump—” “TA-ma—ra. It’s TA-ma-ra.” She’s quick to hit back. “You want to come out with big boobs. You deal with the pronunciation of your name. Look, Donald Trump stands firm.” She once reportedly caused a stir after bringing her 39-person bridal party to the White House for a photo shoot. But after John Kelly took over as chief of staff, Newman’s role in the White House started to diminish. “John Kelly and I sat down in the situation room. I wanted to make the one year mark. That was one of the goals that I set out to, and then get back to my life.” Her tenure at the White House ended with her resignation. But the president continues to stand by her.

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Love her or hate her, the former reality show star turned White House aide has never shied away from controversy.CreditCredit...Drew Angerer/Getty Images

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.

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.

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.

“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.”

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