The Memo

The Memo: Omarosa’s exit is headache for White House

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Team Trump is bracing for negative revelations from Omarosa Manigault Newman after she resigned from the White House in disputed circumstances on Wednesday.

“She is a total press hog, so we will certainly see her say horrible things about the team she was a member of until yesterday,” said one former Trump staffer on Thursday. The source requested anonymity to speak candidly. 

The dynamics regarding Manigault Newman are complicated, however. 

{mosads}She is something of a protege of the president’s, having shot to fame on the NBC reality TV show “The Apprentice” in which he starred. 

Soon after he took office, she was appointed as a senior adviser to the president, as well as communications director of the Office of Public Liaison.

Several sources close to the matter suggested that Manigault Newman was unlikely to attack President Trump himself, and might instead focus her fire on his team.

Manigault Newman was also the most prominent African-American in Trump’s inner circle. 

She has criticized a lack of diversity in the White House during two major television interviews since news of her departure broke.

On Thursday, she told ABC’s “Nightline” that she was “very lonely” working as part of Trump’s overwhelmingly white senior team.

They “had never worked with minorities, didn’t know how to interact with them,” Manigault Newman said.

Earlier on Thursday, she told ABC’s “Good Morning America” that, as the only black woman among the White House’s senior staff, “I have seen things that have made me uncomfortable, that have upset me, that have affected me deeply and emotionally, that has affected my community and my people.”

The idea of Manigault Newman as a representative of the black community writ large will be met with skepticism in some quarters. 

African-American voters have disdained Trump, with only 8 percent of them voting for him over Democrat Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential election, according to exit polls. 

A strong turnout from African-American voters in the special Senate election in Alabama this week was crucial to the upset victory of Democrat Doug Jones — a result that was seen as a rebuke to Trump almost as much as to the Republican candidate, former state Supreme Court chief justice Roy Moore.

Manigault Newman herself got into a heated exchange during a panel discussion at the annual convention of the National Association of Black Journalists earlier this year. 

As moderator Ed Gordon asked her how she “would sit in a White House with a man who clearly is sending a signal to this country” on policing and race, Manigault Newman shot back, “Are you suggesting that I should walk away?” 

Getting to her feet, she also told Gordon he was being “aggressive” and should not “lecture” her.

Still, her departure from the White House, as well as her comments on diversity, did force the administration onto the defensive on Thursday afternoon. 

“We have a really diverse team across the board at the White House,” press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters at Thursday’s media briefing.

Sanders, asked how many senior staffers at the White House were black, replied, “I don’t have a number directly in front of me.” But, she added, “Something that we strive for every day is to add and grow to be more diverse and more representative of the country at-large, and we’re going to continue to do that.”

Both critics and defenders of Manigault Newman agree she will be able to strike deals for a book about her time in the White House or perhaps work as a TV commentator, given her celebrity and undoubted media skills. 

Meanwhile, the exact circumstances of her departure have been the subject of conflicting reports. Sanders insisted that the former reality TV star “resigned from her position” but declined to go into detail.

On Wednesday evening, the Secret Service said in a tweet that it had not been involved in her termination, nor had it escorted her off the White House grounds, as some reports had suggested. It did note, however, that it had deactivated her pass to be on the grounds.

Sources confirmed to The Hill that there were especially acute tensions between Manigault Newman and White House chief of staff John Kelly. 

The former Trump aide said that Manigault Newman’s ability to talk directly and informally with the president had been curtailed since Kelly replaced Reince Priebus in June.

Another GOP strategist with close ties to the White House insisted that a move against Manigault Newman was overdue.

“Omarosa was useless and incompetent,” this person vented. “She was not trusted internally and had no portfolio.”

But, notably, the president himself has sought to maintain a cordial attitude toward his former protege, even as she departs in tense circumstances.

“Thank you Omarosa for your service,” he tweeted on Wednesday. “I wish you continued success.”

The following day he told reporters, “I like Omarosa. Omarosa’s a good person.”

Those warm words could be enough to keep Manigault Newman on Trump’s side. But if she has further revelations that hurt the White House, the mutual admiration will likely come to an abrupt end.

“For any president, loyalty is a one-way street,” the former Trump aide said.

The Memo is a reported column by Niall Stanage, primarily focused on Donald Trump’s presidency.

Lisa Hagen contributed. 

Tags Donald Trump Donald Trump Hillary Clinton John Kelly Omarosa Manigault Omarosa Manigault Newman Reince Priebus Roy Moore United States presidential election White House staff

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