- ‘She was vicious, but not smart,’ Trump tweets about ex-aide
- President rejects claim he used racial slur, saying word ‘not in my vocabulary’
Edward Helmore in New York
Donald Trump has hit back at his former aide Omarosa Manigault Newman after she released tapes of secretly recorded White House conversations, including one in which the president appeared to express surprise that she had been fired from his administration.
“Wacky Omarosa, who got fired 3 times on the Apprentice, now got fired for the last time. She never made it, never will,” Trump tweeted on Monday, admitting that his response to her claims were “not presidential”.
“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. I would rarely see her but heard….”
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Manigault Newman, a former Apprentice reality TV star who became the most prominent African American in the Trump White House, has been promoting her new book Unhinged, which offers a scathing account of life in the West Wing.
The memoir claims Trump is a “racist” who has used the “N-word”, alleging he was caught on mic uttering the slur “multiple times” during the making of his reality TV show The Apprentice. In a series of tweets Monday night, the president hit back at those claims, too, saying: “There are NO TAPES of the Apprentice where I used such a terrible and disgusting word … I don’t have that word in my vocabulary, and never have.”
On Monday, Manigault Newman released an apparent recording of an interaction with Trump in 2017 after she was dismissed from the White House.
Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump)
While 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!
The audio follows other recordings released on Sunday, which she claimed she made when the White House chief of staff, John Kelly, called her into the Situation Room to fire her.
The recordings, if established to be genuine, could be treated as a breach of White House security.
“General Kelly – General Kelly came to me and said that you guys wanted me to leave,” Manigault Newman says on the tape released on Monday.
“No … I, I, nobody even told me about it,” the president appears to respond.
In her book, which is published this week, Manigault Newman paints a picture of Trump as a president who is kept out of the loop on administration decisions.
She told NBC’s Today show there were “multiple tapes” and warned that there were more to come.
“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,” she said.
On Monday, Trump also responded to the author’s claim that after she was fired from the White House, the Trump campaign made her a $15,000 per month job that was, in reality, an attempt to buy her silence with an expansive non-disclosure agreement. “Wacky Omarosa already has a fully signed Non-Disclosure Agreement!” Trump tweeted.
A White House spokesman, Hogan Gidley, declined to get into specifics of Manigault Newman’s firing but emphasised that “the president makes the decisions”.
But he added: “For her to go out and praise the president lavishly after she left her post and tell the truth about how much work he’s done for the African American community and who he is as a person, I guess that wasn’t paying the bills.”
The new recording intensifies a developing controversy over the author’s apparent practice of secretly taping her colleagues, a day after she released a recording of Kelly firing her in the high-security Situation Room, where the president and senior government officials meet to discuss serious foreign policy issues.
The room, located in the basement of the West Wing, is designated a Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility, or SCIF, and staff are not permitted to bring in cellphones or recording devices.
“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,” the White House press secretary, Sarah Sanders, said on Sunday.
The question of whether Manigault Newman could face prosecution for making the recordings in the Situation Room, or recording the president without his knowledge, has yet to be clarified.
Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani said on Monday: “She was certainly violating national security regulations, which I think have the force of law.”
Manigault Newman claimed on Sunday that she had heard a recording of Trump using the N-word and other racial epithets during taping of his reality TV show The Apprentice. She declined to say who had played her the recording.
Manigault Newman, who was once one of Trump’s most prominent defenders, said “hindsight” had changed her views of the president. “Donald Trump is a con and has been masquerading as someone who is actually open to engaging with diverse communities,” she said.
Many have questioned Manigault Newman’s claims, however. Frank Luntz, the campaign pollster who she claimed told an associate he had heard the president utter the racial slur, has emphatically denied the assertion.
“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,” Luntz tweeted.
In another claim, Manigault Newman said she had seen the president eat a note handed to him in the Oval Office by Trump lawyer Michael Cohen to prevent presidential archivists getting it.