WASHINGTON — NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday aired Omarosa Manigault Newman’s recording of her firing by White House Chief of Staff John Kelly in December, and she said that she considers what Kelly said a “threat.”
Manigault Newman appeared on the program in advance of the Tuesday publication of her new memoir “Unhinged: An Insider’s Account of the Trump White House.”
“I think it’s important to understand that if we make this a friendly departure, we can all be, you know, you can look at your time here at the White House as a year of service to the nation, and then you can go on without any difficulty in the future relative to your reputation,” Kelly tells her in the recording.
“It is very obvious a threat. He goes on to say that things can get ugly for you,” Manigault told “Meet the Press” host Chuck Todd. “The chief of staff of the United States, under direction of the president of the United States, threatening me on damage to my reputation. And things getting ugly for me, and damage to my reputation, that is downright criminal. And if I didn’t have these recordings, no one in America would believe me. So I protected myself and now I am glad I did.”
Kelly is heard on the recording telling Manigault Newman that she is being fired over “integrity violations.” In her interview with Todd, Manigault Newman called on the White House to release her employee file so “the American people will see that I worked my butt off for this country.”
She also said that her conversation with Kelly took place in the White House situation room, an area that is typically off limits to personal recording devices and cell phones.
Ronna McDaniel, the chairwoman of the Republican National Committee, wrote in a tweet, “Who in their right mind thinks it’s appropriate to secretly record the White House chief of staff in the Situation Room?”
Manigault Newman said that she had a “blind spot” when it came to President Trump. She said that she was “totally complicit” when she defended the president after the Charlottesville riots one year ago. Trump blamed the violence on “many sides,” rather than condemning the white supremacists who were protesting.
“I was complicit with this White House deceiving this nation — they continue to deceive this nation,” she said.
Manigault Newman said that Trump “never said the n-word in my presence,” but in her book she cites unnamed sources who claim to know of the existence of a recording where the president uses that word on the set of “The Apprentice.” She told Todd that she heard a recording of Trump using the n-word. “I heard his voice as clear as you and I are sitting here,” she said.
On Friday, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders released a statement condemning the book.
“Instead of telling the truth about all the good President Trump and his administration are doing to make America safe and prosperous, this book is riddled with lies and false accusations,” she said. “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.” On Saturday, Trump called Manigault Newman a “lowlife.”
Manigault Newman told Todd that she made the recordings of conversations because “this is a White House where everybody lies” and “you have to have your back.”
Manigault Newman served as special assistant to the president, and was tasked with outreach to the African American community. She was one of the highest paid employees on the White House staff, given a salary of almost $180,000 a year.
Update: White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders issued a new statement on Sunday.
“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,” she said.