Trump attacks former aide who released tapes as ‘vicious, but not smart’

Omarosa Manigault Newman was most prominent African American in Trump White House

Then presidential nominee Donald Trump and Omarosa Manigault Newman at a church service in Detroit, Michigan, in September 2016.  Photograph: Carlo Allegri/Reuters

Then presidential nominee Donald Trump and Omarosa Manigault Newman at a church service in Detroit, Michigan, in September 2016. Photograph: Carlo Allegri/Reuters

 

Donald Trump has hit back at his former aide, Omarosa Manigault Newman, after she released tapes of secretly recorded White House conversations, including one in which the president appeared to express surprise that she had been fired from his administration.

“Wacky Omarosa, who got fired 3 times on the Apprentice, now got fired for the last time. She never made it, never will,” the US president tweeted on Monday, admitting that his response to her claims were “not presidential”.

“She begged me for a job, tears in her eyes, I said Ok. People in the White House hated her. She was vicious, but not smart. I would rarely see her but heard....”

Ms Manigault Newman, a former Apprentice reality TV star who became the most prominent African American in the Trump White House, has been promoting her new book Unhinged, which offers a scathing account of life in the West Wing.

On Monday, Ms Manigault Newman released an apparent recording of an interaction with Mr Trump in 2017 after she was dismissed from the White House.

“Omarosa? Omarosa what’s going on? I just saw on the news that you’re thinking about leaving? What happened?” Mr Trump says on the tape played on NBC’s Today show on Monday.

The audio follows other recordings released on Sunday, which she claimed she made when the White House chief of staff, John Kelly, called her into the Situation Room to fire her.

The recordings, if established to be genuine, could be treated as a breach of White House security.

“General Kelly – General Kelly came to me and said that you guys wanted me to leave,” Ms Manigault Newman says on the tape released on Monday.

Twitter

“No – I, I, nobody even told me about it,” the president appears to respond.

Out of the loop

In her book, which is published this week, Ms Manigault Newman paints a picture of Mr Trump as a president who is kept out of the loop on administration decisions.

She told NBC’s Today show there were “multiple tapes” and warned that there were more to come.

“There’s a lot of very corrupt things happening in the White House and I am going to blow the whistle on a lot of them,” she said.

A White House spokesman, Hogan Gidley, declined to get into specifics of Ms Manigault Newman’s firing but emphasised that “the president makes the decisions”.

But he added: “For her to go out and praise the president lavishly after she left her post and tell the truth about how much work he’s done for the African American community and who he is as a person, I guess that wasn’t paying the bills.”

The new recording intensifies a developing controversy over the author’s apparent practice of secretly taping her colleagues, a day after she released a recording of Mr Kelly firing her in the high-security Situation Room, where the president and senior government officials meet to discuss serious foreign policy issues.

Ms Manigault Newman claimed on Sunday that she had heard a recording of Mr Trump using the N-word and other racial epithets during taping of his reality TV show The Apprentice. She declined to say who had played her the recording.

Agent fired

Separately on Monday, a senior FBI counterintelligence agent who disparaged Mr Trump in inflammatory text messages and helped oversee the Hillary Clinton email and Russia investigations, was fired for violating bureau policies, his lawyer said.

Mr Trump and his allies seized on the text messages – sent by Peter Strzok during the 2016 campaign to a former FBI lawyer, Lisa Page – in assailing the Russia investigation as an illegitimate “witch hunt”. Mr Strzok, who rose over 20 years at the FBI to become one of its most experienced counterintelligence agents, was a key figure in the early months of the inquiry.

Peter Strzok is the second senior FBI agent to be fired as a result of the inspector general’s investigation. Photograph: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
Peter Strzok is the second senior FBI agent to be fired as a result of the inspector general’s investigation. Photograph: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Aitan Goelman, his lawyer, confirmed Mr Strzok’s dismissal. In one message exchange, Ms Page asks: Trump is “not ever going to become president, right? Right?!” Mr Strzok responds: “No. No he won’t. We’ll stop it.”

The inspector general, who uncovered the messages, found no evidence that the pair imposed their political views on their investigative decisions but cited that exchange as “not only indicative of a biased state of mind but, even more seriously, implies a willingness to take official action to impact the presidential candidate’s electoral prospects.”

The report by the inspector general, Michael E Horowitz, that preceded Mr Strzok’s firing criticised his conduct in sending the texts; his use of personal email accounts to handle sensitive information; and a decision not to move swiftly enough to examine new emails related to the Clinton investigation just weeks before the 2016 election.

‘Deeply troubled’

Mr Horowitz said in his report that he was “deeply troubled” by the text messages. Hundreds exchanged over months were found in which the pair disparaged Mr Trump and, to a lesser extent, Ms Clinton, exchanged work gossip and bantered.

After Mr Horowitz uncovered the text messages, the special counsel, Robert Mueller, who had by then taken over the investigation, removed Mr Strzok from his team last summer. He was reassigned to the FBI’s human resources division. Ms Page, who had left Mr Mueller’s team before the discovery of the text messages, quit the FBI in May.

Mr Strzok’s dismissal was not unexpected. He is the second senior FBI agent to be fired as a result of the inspector general’s investigation. In March, Andrew McCabe, the former deputy director, was fired after the inspector general repeatedly faulted him for misleading investigators. – Guardian/New York Times