Nothing can change your mind about a person as quickly as getting dumped or fired.
In season one, Omarosa Manigault Newman, “The Apprentice” villain-turned-senior White House official, crowed that Donald Trump’s critics one day would be proved wrong about him and forced to “bow down to President Trump.”Story Continued Below
In season two, the former communications director for the White House Office of Public Liaison has penned a tell-all book in which she calls the president a “racist, bigot and misogynist” and slams his daughter for ordering up lists of leakers to fire.
The story behind Newman’s change of heart sold for a modest advance, according to people in the publishing world, in part because she spoiled the surprise in February, when she appeared on the reality show “Celebrity Big Brother,” likening her exit from the White House last December to being “freed from a plantation” and calling Trump “a special kind of fucked up.”
But during a sleepy week in August, Manigault Newman’s book, “Unhinged: An Insider Account of the Trump White House,” out Aug. 14, appears to have a full news cycle to itself. She is set to make her debut media appearance Sunday, on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”
Manigault Newman is selling herself as the ultimate Trump insider, with the best dirt on the president of the United States going back 15 years. She knew Ivanka before the first daughter knew Jared Kushner, she has bragged to people; she knew Melania when she was just a little-known Knavs.
She is aware, people who have spoken to her said, that there will be efforts to dismiss her as a fabulist.
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But Manigault Newman is using the threat of taped conversations with the president and with his family members to gird against attacks on her credibility. She is also teasing her book as an appetizer, telling friends and acquaintances she has held onto explosive material that she intends to release later — such as the names of illegitimate children she claims Trump has fathered.
The most salacious charge to emerge from her book is that Trump often used the N-word during taping of “The Apprentice,” and that there are tapes to prove it. She also blames Ivanka Trump, who publicly tries to portray herself as above the fray, as the person who ordered up a list of “suspected leakers” to fire after a Make America Great Again rally in Youngstown, Ohio.
Manigault Newman does not have the tape but writes that she has confirmed its existence from three anonymous sources.
Republican pollster Frank Luntz tweeted on Friday that while he was named as one of the sources, he had never heard the president use the slur: “I’m in @OMAROSA’s book on page 149. 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.”
Rumors of the “N-word” tape have haunted Trump staffers since the campaign, when they would hold regular meetings to discuss a strategy if the alleged tape ever came out. “We were living in a constant state of fear of the N-word tape coming out,” recalled one former senior campaign official. While nobody knew for sure whether such a tape even existed, the post-“Access Hollywood” mind-set in Trump Tower meant that “anything seemed possible,” the former official added.
In a statement, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders called Manigault Newman’s book “riddled with lies and false accusations,” and she took a shot at the media for covering it. “It’s sad that a disgruntled former White House employee is trying to profit off these false attacks, and even worse that the media would now give her a platform, after not taking her seriously when she had only positive things to say about the President during her time in the administration,” Sanders said.
As Sanders bashed the book in a statement, former aides were cheering the project, however flawed its messenger might be.
The campaign, one former aide said, was staffed by people who took massive reputational risk working for Trump and developed a bunker mentality because of it. When those people were later forced out by newcomers to Trumpworld, they felt used. “They’ll never go out and nuke people like Omarosa did,” said the former staffer, “but the anger is there. This book never gets written if Omarosa wasn’t treated like shit both in the White House and on her way out.”
A publicist for her publisher, Simon & Schuster, declined to comment. Manigault Newman also declined to comment.
Many presidents have former staffers who turn on them after they leave — and there’s a cachet and payday for the first turncoat willing to peel off and expose the leader of the free world in a negative light. In fact, the tell-all from onetime aides has become a literary genre of its own.
James Fallows, who served as a speechwriter to President Jimmy Carter, wrote a magazine article called “The Passionless Presidency: The Trouble With Jimmy Carter’s Administration,” after leaving the administration. Scott McClellan, the former press secretary to George W. Bush, published “What Happened: Inside the Bush White House and Washington’s Culture of Deception,” criticizing his former boss for the way he sold the decision to invade Iraq in 2003.
The former Bill Clinton whisperer Dick Morris is another classic example of someone who flipped on his former boss once he realized that the only place to cash his check was on the other side.
But Manigault Newman is a special case for a special kind of presidency.
She was treated poorly in the White House, according to former colleagues. But she also often behaved in ways that seemed out of line, even in Trump’s rule-flouting administration.
Last year, before her dismissal, the White House counsel’s office wrote up a report on the behavior surrounding her dismissal, which included an attempt to bring her wedding party onto White House grounds and an abuse of the White House car service, according to a senior administration official.
Manigault Newman, who was married in November 2017, arrived at the White House after her wedding ceremony to take pictures in and outside the White House. In tow were her wedding guests, including Trump-loving YouTube stars Diamond & Silk. When she was barred from entering the White House campus, the bride threw a tantrum and told people that “the president wouldn’t be in the White House if it wasn’t for her,” the senior administration official said.
A report by the White House counsel’s office about the entire incident was prepared to present to the president. When Manigault Newman was fired by chief of staff John Kelly the following month, she locked herself in her office, called the general “John,” and hung up on him when he tried to deliver her the news, according to a second administration official.
Manigault Newman’s reputation for deceit has also made people fear her. “I don’t know what tapes she has on me,” said a former colleague, explaining his reluctance to comment on her accusations.
But Manigault Newman has lately been telling people that she’s the one who should be afraid — and that she has given copies of her taped conversations with Trump to family members for safekeeping in the event that she is murdered, said a person familiar with the conversations. She has also said she is taking meetings in disguise — dressed in a baseball hat, sunglasses and baggy clothes — out of a growing paranoia that the president will come after her.
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