President Donald Trump and former aide Omarosa Manigault Newman continue to face off in a messy clash that involved an explosive tell-all book, secret recordings and plenty of insults — reviving their roles as reality show boss and villain.
Trump accused Manigault Newman, the former White House liaison to Black voters, as “wacky” and “not smart” after his former co-star revealed her recording of a phone conversation with the president during a media blitz for her new book.
Beyond their war of words, the row touched on several sensitive issues in Trump’s White House, including a lack of racial diversity among senior officials, security in the executive mansion, a culture that some there feel borders on paranoia and the extraordinary measures used to keep ex-employees quiet.
In an unusual admission, Trump acknowledged that the public sparring was perhaps beneath a person in his position, tweeting that he knew it was “not presidential” to take on “a lowlife like Omarosa.” But he added: “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!”
The dispute has been building for days as Manigault Newman promotes her memoir “Unhinged,” which is out now. The book paints a damning picture of Trump, including her claim that he used racial slurs on the set of his reality show “The Apprentice.”
In a series of interviews on NBC, Manigault Newman also revealed two audio recordings from her time at the White House, including portions of a recording of her firing by chief of staff John Kelly, which she says occurred in the high-security Situation Room, and a phone call with Trump after she was fired.
Trump officials and a number of outside critics denounced the recordings as a serious breach of ethics and security — and White House aides worried about what else Manigault Rosa may have captured in the West Wing.
The latest tape recording appears to show Trump expressing surprise about her firing, saying “nobody even told me about it.” But Manigault Newman said he “probably instructed General Kelly to do it.”
On Twitter Trump declared that she had been “fired for the last time,” a reference to her appearances on his reality TV show. He said Kelly had called her a “loser & nothing but problems,” but he himself had tried to save her job — because he liked her public comments about him.
Responding on NBC, Manigault Newman said: “I think it’s sad that with all the things that’s going on in the country that he would take time out to insult me and to insult my intelligence.” She added: “This is his pattern with African-Americans.”
Manigault Newman’s exit does highlight the lack of diversity among Trump’s top aides. She was the highest-ranking African-American on the White House staff. She said on NBC that in her absence “they’re making decisions about us without us.”
Trump’s battle with his former top Black aide underscores the racial tensions that have defined his presidency. He notably blamed “both sides” for violent clashes between white supremacists and counterprotesters in Charlottesville, Virginia, a year ago and has questioned the intelligence of other prominent black figures including California Rep. Maxine Waters, basketball star LeBron James and TV journalist Don Lemon. He also has targeted black NFL players for kneeling in social protest during the national anthem.