Court Battles

DOJ files federal lawsuit against Omarosa, alleging she violated ethics law

The federal government on Tuesday filed a civil lawsuit against former White House aide Omarosa Manigault Newman, alleging that she failed to file a required financial disclosure report after she was fired.

The civil action alleges that Manigault Newman is in violation of the Ethics in Government Act "for knowingly and willfully failing to file the required public financial disclosure report after her employment terminated with the Executive Office of the President."

The Department of Justice is seeking a fine of up to $50,000 against the former "Apprentice" contestant.

In a statement to The Hill, Manigault Newman's attorney John M. Phillips called the allegations "untrue" and claimed that the "White House chooses to abuse process and use the Department of Justice to carry out retaliation."

Phillips maintained that many of the items his client would be required to report on the form were taken by the White House and the White House counsel's office when she was fired. And he claimed that the White House didn't agree to hand over those documents until May.

"We requested an extension until these documents could be returned. However, despite her efforts, they have continued to withhold these documents which are needed to complete the disclosure and now serve media with a complaint before she even has a chance to read it," Phillips said.

"We will pick up these materials immediately and have requested same repeatedly," he continued. "Omarosa Manigault Newman cannot even get a straight answer about the amount of materials wrongfully possessed. This is premature and retaliation. It should not be tolerated."

The complaint, filed in federal court in D.C. on Tuesday, alleges that Manigault Newman was told in December 2017 - when she left the White House - that she needed to file a termination financial disclosure report by Jan. 18, 2018.

The document states that three emails were sent to her personal email address reminding her of her obligation to file the report.

The department alleged that ethics attorneys in the White House counsel's office then made repeated attempts to contact Manigault Newman, telling her that her financial disclosure report was past due.

The court filing states that Manigault Newman did respond to one ethics attorney in March 2018, calling the lawyer to discuss the report.

"Later that day, on March 26, 2018, Stefan Passantino, then-Deputy Counsel to the President, sent Ms. Manigault Newman an email to the provided email address and to the second email address reminding her of her obligation to file her termination financial disclosure report," the court document reads.

"Ms. Manigault Newman responded to Mr. Passantino's email that same day using the provided email address but thereafter did not file the overdue termination financial disclosure report," it continues.

The president's office then referred the matter to the Department of Justice, and the civil action was authorized in March 2019.

Manigault Newman had a high-profile departure from the White House in December 2017 and later revealed that she had secretly recorded then-chief of staff John Kelly firing her in the Oval Office.

Manigault Newman later released other tapes from her time in the Trump administration and campaign and wrote a tell-all book about her experience.

She also appeared on "Celebrity Big Brother," where she spoke about her time working with the president.

This post was updated at 5:46 p.m.

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