Former White House aide Omarosa Manigault Newman (pictured above) apparently broke security protocols when she taped her December 2017 firing by John Kelly, the chief of staff, in the White House Situation Room.
“As you’ll see in ‘Unhinged,’ I protected myself because this is a White House where everybody lies,” she told NBC News host Chuck Todd Sunday on “Meet the Press.”
She is promoting her new book, “Unhinged: An Insider’s Account of the Trump White House,” which purports to provide an honest look at the administration.
“You have to have your own back because otherwise you’ll look back and you’ll see 17 knives in your back,” she added.
The former communications director for the White House’s Office of Public Liaison was forcibly removed from the White House in December 2017. Although she previously insisted she resigned from President Donald Trump’s administration, she now claims Kelly fired her.
Manigault Newman told ABC News’ “Good Morning America” in December that she spoke with Kelly “in the Situation Room, which is a very secure, very quiet room in the White House.”
But the former White House aide revealed she secretly recorded the exchange with Kelly in the Situation Room — the room in the West Wing’s basement with the strictest security protocols in place; it is where presidents and key staff members monitor crises and make decisions.
Kelly can be heard telling her in the recording, “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 in the White House as a year of service to the nation. And then you can go on without any type of difficulty in the future relative to your reputation.”
Manigault Newman told Todd that “it’s pretty clear from that recording that John Kelly came in and said, ‘This is the end, we want you to leave.’ But what’s interesting is, they take me into the Situation Room; the doors are locked. They tell me I can’t leave. And they start to threaten me, put fear in me, to put me under duress.”
She insisted, “That’s downright criminal. And if I didn’t have these recordings, no one in America would believe me.”
When Todd asked her if she was “planning to record him the minute you found out you had this meeting,” she replied, “Well, no. First of all, like I said, I’m the only African-American there. When you walk into a meeting with John Kelly who’s refused to meet with me the whole time he’s there, in the Situation Room, Chuck — we’re not going in there to talk about, you know, parking or scheduling issues … We’re going in there to talk about something very serious,” she said.
When Todd asked the former White House aide “how often” she taped people, she skirted the question.
When Todd then asked her if she knew “how disloyal it looks,” she objected.
“That’s not disloyalty,” she said. “I had to protect myself, and I have no regret about it.”
News of her recording from the Situation Room spurred immediate responses and condemnations of her credibility.
“Who in their right mind thinks it’s appropriate to secretly record the White House chief of staff in the Situation Room?” Republican National Committee (RNC) Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel tweeted. “Secretly recording conversations in the Situation Room isn’t just wildly inappropriate, it’s a threat to our national security. If she broke federal law, she should be prosecuted.”
Who in their right mind thinks it’s appropriate to secretly record the White House chief of staff in the Situation Room?
— Ronna McDaniel (@GOPChairwoman) August 12, 2018
Secretly recording conversations in the Situation Room isn't just wildly inappropriate, it's a threat to our national security. If she broke federal law, she should be prosecuted.
— Ronna McDaniel (@GOPChairwoman) August 12, 2018
Former White House Director of Legislative Affairs Marc Short said Sunday on ABC News’ “This Week” that “when you enter the Situation Room, you have to give up all your phones. So if she actually did that, that’s quite an affront.”
Republican pollster Frank Luntz blasted Manigault Newman’s credibility in a tweet, saying “I’m in @Omarosa‘s book on page 149. She claims to have heard from someone who heard from me that I heard Trump use the N-word. Not only is this flat-out false (I’ve never heard such a thing), but Omarosa didn’t even make an effort to call or email me to verify. Very shoddy work.”
Also on the ABC News program, White House counselor Kellyanne Conway said Manigault Newman, who was formerly a fervent Trump supporter, “unfortunately has undercut her own credibility” since exiting the White House and writing her book.
“This is somebody who gave a glowing appraisal of Donald Trump, the businessman, the star of the ‘The Apprentice,’ the candidate, and indeed the president of the United States,” Conway said.
“I think Omarosa is a tremendous disappointment here because she should be taking credit for all the great gains that this president has made with respect to that low unemployment number among African-Americans, Hispanic Americans and others,” she said.
“But that doesn’t sell books and that doesn’t settle scores,” Conway added. “So I understand whether it’s 30 pieces of silver or a seven-figure book advance, people do change their loyalties and change their mind.”