The Memo: Omarosa beats Trump, potentially opening flood gates
Former President Trump may face a new torrent of unfavorable revelations from former staffers after erstwhile “Apprentice” star and ex-White House aide Omarosa Manigault Newman won a key victory in recent days.
Trump has spent years trying to hit back at Manigault Newman, who wrote a critical book about her time as director of communications in the White House’s Office of Public Liaison.
Manigault Newman had signed a nondisclosure agreement with the 2016 Trump campaign, which the Trump legal team argued was violated by her authorship of the book. But the agreement was voided by a New York arbitrator on Friday. The decision was first reported by The New York Times on Tuesday.
Manigault Newman’s victory could embolden others who signed NDAs with Trump. The former White House staffer says that’s already happening.
She told this column in a Tuesday evening phone conversation that “people have been reaching out even in the last 24 hours wanting to tell their stories and wanting to consult with my legal team.”
The attorneys who worked on her case agreed.
The implications of the arbitrator’s findings should be “scary” for Trump, according to Manigault Newman’s lead attorney, John Phillips.
He added that he believed the wording of Manigault Newman’s NDA was essentially the same as for many other former Trump staffers.
“I believe it is effectively over for this NDA,” Phillips said.
J. Wyndal Gordon, a trial lawyer also on Manigault Newman’s team, said: “There are many others who signed this agreement and have, to their knowledge, been bound to some secrecy because they were afraid of the wrath of Mr. Trump. However, this case really frees a lot of those who really wanted to have something to say but felt muted” by the NDA.
Trump has already been the subject of some withering accounts. In the past few days, embarrassing revelations have been reported from a forthcoming book by former White House communications director Stephanie Grisham. Now there may be more to come.
Manigault Newman was fired from her White House role by then chief of staff John Kelly in 2017 and the following year published a book titled “Unhinged.” Among other details, she alleged that Trump was bigoted and mentally diminished. Soon after the book was published, Trump’s campaign filed the arbitration action.
At around the same time, Trump savaged Manigault Newman on Twitter, referring to her as a “dog” and a “lowlife.”
But the New York arbitrator said the provisions of the NDA could not stand up because they were so “vague and indefinite.”
The arbitrator, T. Andrew Brown, added, “There is no way here to tell if a breach has occurred, since the determination of whether there is a breach is left to the sole determination of Mr. Trump.”
Manigault Newman told The Hill that she had found the three years of fighting over the NDA — a struggle that began when Trump still had more than two years left of his White House term —“quite an arduous battle.”
“It was difficult and it was also expensive. The only people I talked to were my legal team, my husband and my therapist, because being sued by the president while he was in office was tremendously difficult for me and my family,” she said.
The former “Apprentice” star, having known Trump since 2003, said she was well aware of his hardball tactics against those whom he believed had crossed him.
“For 17 years, I would see this vexatious litigation over and over and over. I wake up one day and I am in the throes of it,” she said. “At that time he was the most powerful man in this country, if not the world, and the power of his tweets during this litigation cannot be overstated. A tweet would unleash more terror, and all of these followers and bots.”
Trump has famously been banished from Twitter and several other social media platforms since he incited the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol. But he struck out at Manigault Newman in a statement to The Hill and other news outlets after the arbitration decision became public.
Trump contended that Manigault Newman “failed” during “The Apprentice,” and added, “At her desperate request, I gave her an attempt at the White House and she failed there too, people truly hated her.”
The former president also insisted, “Nobody in her life has done more for Omarosa than a man named Donald Trump. Unfortunately, like certain others, she forgot all about that — which is fine by me!”
The former president may in part be sore because his campaign is now on the hook to pay the costs and legal fees for Manigault Newman — fees that are bound to be substantial given the length of the case.
“Everything I learned in the boardroom from ‘The Apprentice’ to the Oval Office, I was able to apply in this situation,” Manigault Newman said. “I was able to be victorious and now he has to pay potentially millions in legal fees and costs.”
Asked about future Trump presidential ambitions, she is scathing.
“Donald is threatening to run again, not because he wants to make the country better or to strengthen our democracy. Simply put, he wants revenge,” she said.
Phillips, her lead lawyer, pays tribute to her courage in seeing the legal action through.
Phillips noted he also represents Joe Exotic, the star of the Netflix hit “Tiger King.”
Representing those clients, Phillips added, means he has “the pleasure of representing two of the most compelling figures reality shows have ever brought us.”
The Memo is a reported column by Niall Stanage.
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