Witness for the prosecution?
“Is General Kelly running this country,” Omarosa Manigault Newman asked this morning on NBC’s Today show, “or is the president running this country?” That ought to get Donald Trump’s attention, even if Manigault Newman’s firing didn’t. The former White House employee released an audio recording of her call with Trump shortly after getting fired by chief of staff John Kelly, in which he insists that “no one told me about it”:
TRUMP: “Omarosa, what’s going on? I just saw on the news that you’re thinking about leaving? What happened?
OMAROSA: General Kelly – General Kelly came to me and said that you guys wanted me to leave.
TRUMP: No… I, I – Nobody even told me about it.
TRUMP: You know they run a big operation, but I didn’t know it. I didn’t know that. Goddamn it. I don’t love you leaving at all.”
This raises a question or two about Trump, but also about Omarosa too. She’s telling everyone now that she’s ashamed of her work at the White House and accuses Trump of being a racist. And yet, here she has an opportunity to confront Trump in the immediate aftermath of her firing, and Omarosa sounds as if she wants to get Trump to get her job back for her. If the White House was so awful, why did she have to get canned before leaving it? And why didn’t she take this opportunity to speak her mind to Trump, especially since she knew she was recording the conversation?
It’s not the only credibility issue Omarosa has, but she’s hardly alone either. The White House went on the attack after Omarosa’s appearance on Meet the Press yesterday, blasting her release of audio recorded in the Situation Room:
Omarosa Manigault Newman, the fired White House aide seeking publicity for her new memoir about her time in the Trump administration, said in an interview Sunday that the way Chief of Staff John F. Kelly dismissed her involved a “threat” and shared an audio recording of Kelly she said she made in the Situation Room.
The recording was played on NBC News’s “Meet the Press,” where Manigault Newman was interviewed by Chuck Todd.
In the purported recording, which would constitute a serious breach of White House security, Kelly is heard complaining about her “significant integrity issues” and saying he wants to make her departure “friendly” and without “any difficulty in the future relative to your reputation.”
In a statement Sunday, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said that “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.”
Yes. And… who hired her, please?
ABC reported late yesterday that the White House might try shutting down the Omarosa Show in court, especially more releases of audio:
Omarosa Manigault Newman’s former White House colleagues are looking into legal options to stop her from releasing more tapes and to punish her for secretly recording her conversation with Chief of Staff Gen. John Kelly, White House officials tell ABC News. …
Spicer rebutted Manigault Newman’s claim that he signed a non-disclosure agreement and called her assertion that he was paid hush money “false.”
He added that Manigault Newman had top secret clearance at a minimum, and she may have broken the law by recording her conversation in the Situation Room — what’s supposed to be the most secure place in the White House. …
“It’s an unbelievable violation of protocol and the law,” Spicer said. “You can lose your security clearance for bringing your device into SCIF — to bring it in is a violation but to willfully record it — you’re entering a whole other realm.”
Would a court impose a prior restraint on the release of all audio recordings? That seems pretty doubtful, considering Washington DC is a single-party-consent jurisdiction. They might, however, enjoin Manigault Newman from releasing any recordings made in secured areas. The Department of Justice could take steps to prosecute her for that, too, but so far the recordings themselves have been merely embarrassing, not revelatory of national-security secrets. (Except for the part where John Kelly secretly runs the country, of course, which might be more of a deterrent to our enemies than an opening.) They might be able to get a judge to force Manigault Newman to share the recordings to make sure no nat-sec information is released, which would be a reasonable middle step. Sure, it’s going to look retaliatory, but at this point it couldn’t look worse than it is at the moment for the White House.
As noted, Omarosa told her ever-expanding side of the story to Savannah Guthrie on NBC’s Today show this morning, complete with the broadside on Trump’s credibility. If nothing else, let this be a lesson to those hiring for high-profile positions in powerful organizations. Employing reality-show villains may be entertaining, but eventually the joke’s on you.