White House lawyers are examining legal options for punishing Omarosa Manigault Newman for releasing secretly taped recordings with Chief of Staff Gen. John Kelly inside the secure Situation Room.
“The very idea a staff member would sneak a recording device into the White House Situation Room shows a blatant disregard for our national security — and then to brag about it on national television further proves the lack of character and integrity of this disgruntled former White House employee,” White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said on Sunday.
Former Trump spokesman Sean Spicer also said Newman could face legal problems for the secret taping in a Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility, known as a SCIF.
“It’s an unbelievable violation of protocol and the law,” Spicer said. “You can lose your security clearance for bringing your device into SCIF — to bring it in is a violation but to willfully record it — you’re entering a whole other realm.”
President Trump weighed in on Newman on Monday morning, writing on Twitter: “Wacky Omarosa, who got fired 3 times on the Apprentice, now got fired for the last time. She never made it, never will. 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… really bad things. Nasty to people & would constantly miss meetings & work. When Gen. Kelly came on board he told me she was a loser & nothing but problems. I told him to try working it out, if possible, because she only said GREAT things about me – until she got fired!”
A new tape of Newman talking to President Trump emerged on Monday, when NBC’s “Today” played it. The tape purportedly captures a conversation between Newman and Trump after she was fired by Kelly in December.
“Omarosa what’s going on? I just saw in the news that you’re thinking about leaving. What happened?” Trump asks on the recording.
“General Kelly came to me and said that you guys wanted me to leave,” Omarosa responds.
“No. Nobody ever told me about it,” Trump replied.
“Wow,” Omarosa said.
“You know, they run a big operation, but I didn’t know it,” Trump says. “… God dammit. I don’t love you leaving at all.”
Meanwhile, a former U.S. attorney said Newman “likely” committed a crime when she recorded the White House chief of staff in the Situation Room.
“There is likely a technical crime or two that’s been committed here,” Joyce Vance said on MSNBC. Vance also said that Kelly may have been aware that Newman might tape him, prompting him to fire her in a SCIF.
“Typically I wouldn’t think that the president’s chief of staff would need to take an employee into the Situation Room to fire them,” Vance said. “And it seems like he may have taken her into the Situation Room contemplating that as a secure facility, she wouldn’t be able to take a phone or another recording device in with her.”
Newman, the former winner of Trump’s hit TV show “The Apprentice” who worked as an assistant to the president and director of communications for the Office of Public Liaison, has a new book coming out Tuesday titled, “Unhinged: An Insider Account of the Trump White House.”
In the book, Newman claims Trump used the “N-word” often and also used racist language to refer to George Conway, the half-Filipino husband of White House aide Kellyanne Conway. Newman claims someone told her about a tape in which the racial language is used, but has since repeatedly said that she heard the tape herself.
Katrina Pierson, a former Trump campaign spokeswoman, said Newman is simply “creating salacious lies and distortions.” Newman claims Pierson told her she had heard Trump say the N-word.
“Omarosa is being intentionally dishonest in order to sell her new book. First, I have never heard President Trump ever use the derogatory language that Omarosa claims,” Pierson said in a statement to ABC News.
“Also, I never confirmed the existence of an alleged tape from ‘The Apprentice’ to her as she said today,” the statement continued. “That’s a complete fabrication by Omarosa.”
“I was honored when he appointed me, a single mother, as the first black National Spokeswoman for a winning U.S. presidential campaign,” Pierson said. “I feel pity for Omarosa as she embarrasses herself by creating salacious lies and distortions just to try to be relevant and enrich herself by selling books at the expense of the truth. ‘Unhinged,’ indeed.”
Ronna McDaniel, chairman of the Republican National Committee, also weighed in on the scandal.
“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,” she wrote on Twitter.
In the Situation Room tape, Kelly tells Newman “We’ve got to talk to you about leaving the White House. It’s come to my attention over the last few months that there’s been some pretty, in my opinion, significant integrity issues related to you and the use of government vehicles and some other issues.”
When she asks Kelly whether Trump knows of her firing, Kelly says “this is a non-negotiable discussion” and that her firing was related to “pretty serious integrity violations.”
Trump had one last thing to say to Newman on Twitter on Monday.
“While I know it’s ‘not presidential’ to take on a lowlife like Omarosa, and while I would rather not be doing so, this is a modern day form of communication and I know the Fake News Media will be working overtime to make even Wacky Omarosa look legitimate as possible. Sorry!”