If it’s fair to judge public figures by the company they keep, and I think to some extent it is, then President Trump fares poorly. No one better exemplifies the poor company Trump has kept than Omarosa Manigault Newman.
With no apparent qualification beyond her status as a reality television personality, Manigault became Director of African-American Outreach for Donald Trump’s presidential campaign. After Trump’s victory, she became Assistant to the President and Director of Communications for the Office of Public Liaison, in which capacity she referred to herself as “the Honorable Omarosa Manigault” even though the title is neither customary for political aides nor typically self-applied.
Little about Manigault seems honorable. Her persona as a reality television star was the antithesis of honorable. Before jumping ship to work for Trump’s campaign, she worked for Hillary Clinton’s. During her time at the White House, Manigault was known for interrupting meetings, subverting chains of command, and erupting at other aides whom she didn’t like.
Furthermore, if her current core allegations about Trump (discussed below) are true, it was dishonorable of her to serve in his administration. And make no mistake, she almost certainly would still be working for it had she not finally been fired.
Having been fired, Manigault has written a book attacking Trump. By all accounts, it’s a venomous work, fully consistent with her reality television character.
The book is called Unhinged: An Insider Account of the Trump White House. Unhinged seems like a good description of Manigault. It’s the sense of her I got when I saw her cringe-inducing performances on television during the campaign.
The aspect of the book drawing most of the attention is Manigault’s claim that Trump is a racist who used the N-word. As noted above, this allegation is hard to square with Manigault’s work for, and loyalty towards, the man. Manigault not only worked for Trump, she frequently swatted down claims that he is a racist.
Beyond this obvious problem with her story is her inability to substantiate it, and the apparent lies she tells in trying to do so. Manigault claims there is tape of Trump using the N-word during filming of “The Apprentice.” In her book, reportedly, she says she doesn’t have such tape and hasn’t heard one, but claims Frank Luntz confirmed its existence.
Omarosa says she heard from someone else that Luntz had said Trump used the N-word. But Luntz denies having said this and notes that Omarosa never called him to verify the story.
To make matters worse for Omarosa, she can’t keep her story straight. As noted above, in her book Manigault says only that she was told about the tape with the bad word. But during an interview with NPR, Manigault claimed that she heard Trump utter it on tape.
NPR’s Rachel Martin pressed Manigault on the point, producing this exchange:
Martin: Did you actually hear the tape?”
Manigault: I did. Girl, did you read my book?
Martin said that she had, and stated that Manigault’s account didn’t add up.
In the same vein, Manigault claims that Trump called George Conway, Kellyanne’s husband, a “f**king Flip.” George Conway, a critic of Trump, calls the charge “absurd all around.”
Additional claims in Manigault’s book have been called into question. She says Trump got into a heated argument with the White House’s chief usher over a tanning bed in the White House private residence. A senior White House official told reporters there is no tanning bed in the residence.
Manigault appears to be lying remorselessly about Trump. At a minimum she is trying to pass off unverified claims as facts.
I don’t feel too sorry for the president, though. To some extent, he’s getting what he deserves for hiring someone of such transparently low character.
It’s true that African-Americans weren’t exactly tripping over themselves to speak on behalf of Trump during the campaign, or even after he won. Surely, though, Trump could have done better than Manigault.
Her prominence in Trump world tends to confirm this claim in her book:
. . .[Trump] loves the hate. He thrives on criticism and insults. He delights in chaos and confusion.
Viewed in this light, the Manigault hire seems like a perfect match. Trump could have done better, but didn’t want to.