It was less than 24 hours before a marquee White House event honoring the first Black History Month with Donald Trump as president, and the administration’s highest-ranking African American official hadn’t even been invited.
The White House had Omarosa Manigault Newman to thank for that.
According to multiple sources with direct knowledge of the matter, Manigault Newman—the former senior official in the Trump administration who is now going on a Trump-trashing media tour—had demanded of her superiors, former White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus and former Chief Strategist Steve Bannon, that she oversee all of President Trump’s inaugural Black History Month early last year.
However, Manigault Newman, then communications director for the Office of Public Liaison and a high-ranking Assistant to the President, consistently failed to do any real work preparing for the month. She made numerous promises about events and parties that never materialized. She refused to respond to reporters’ inquiries about what Trump even had planned for the month, and claimed to colleagues she was too “overwhelmed” with work to devise a comms strategy or talking points.
And when it came time for Manigault Newman to orchestrate Trump’s televised black-history roundtable discussion in early February, she somehow didn’t invite Ben Carson, according to four knowledgeable sources.
Carson only ended up making an appearance at the breakfast roundtable because Katie Walsh, a former deputy chief of staff in the Trump White House, invited Carson, then Trump’s nominee for HUD secretary, the evening before the event—just hours before it began.
Manigault Newman had neglected virtually all her other work on the event she had pushed Bannon and Priebus to let her take over. Walsh, who by several sources’ independent accounts had picked up most the slack in the days leading up to the roundtable, had to stay at the White House working and preparing until roughly 3 a.m. the morning of the event, cleaning up after the disorganized mess Manigault Newman had casually left.
Manigault Newman would spend much of the remainder of Walsh’s brief tenure in the Trump administration trashing Walsh directly to Trump, repeatedly telling the president that his deputy chief of staff was a “leaker” and a backstabber who secretly hated him.
“I was honored to be invited to the Black History Month event late in the evening before, for an event that was happening the next morning,” Paris Dennard, an African American pro-Trump conservative commentator, told The Daily Beast. “Having worked in [a] White House before, I knew that was highly unusual and I didn’t know why it took Omarosa so long to get out the invitations for such an important event.”
Dennard says he received his 11th hour invitation in a text message from Manigault Newman.
While Manigault Newman is levying serious allegations of racism against her former boss and friend, before she was escorted off the White House campus last December, sources with direct knowledge say that not only was she consistently MIA on spearhead African-American outreach events but actively worked to undermine black conservatives in Trump’s orbit.
Heritage Foundation President Kay Coles James claimed earlier this year that the reason she was “blocked” from a job in the Trump administration was because of Manigault Newman, a longtime Trump pal and co-star from his Apprentice era on NBC.
In her private conversations with the president, Manigault Newman talked regularly and “viciously,” in the words of one former White House official, about black conservatives such as former Ohio Secretary of State Ken Blackwell and James, telling her boss that they had no business serving on his team and couldn’t be trusted to have his back.
When she wasn’t dishing dirt on prospective rivals directly to Trump, the former Apprentice villain who quickly became one of the most widely despised figures in Trump’s West Wing would frequently wander the White House holding court and gossiping with anyone who would listen, while not doing any actual work, according to her fellow co-workers.
Early in the administration, she commandeered a desk outside what had been Sarah Huckabee Sanders’ office and began amassing a gigantic pile of shoes around it, as first reported last year by The Washingtonian.
Another former White House official told The Daily Beast that this "dumping ground for shoes… drove all the girls there crazy” as staffers would trip over the shoes that they saw as a safety hazard. Still, nobody wanted to risk a fight with Manigault Newman by speaking up about them because even people who outranked her on paper feared that she would barge into the Oval Office and complain to a sympathetic Trump if they incurred her ire.
Well beyond the obstructing footwear, Manigault Newman quickly gained a reputation in the Trump administration as a particularly vengeful individual who operated under the protection that came with her personal friendship with President Trump. Even Priebus did what he could to avoid provoking her wrath.
A current senior Trump administration official dubbed it “Omarosa’s reign of terror.”
It got so bad that in the spring of last year, senior White House staffers had a closed-door meeting in Priebus’s office during which officials started openly discussing what to do about Manigault Newman. “Can't we just fire her? What can we do to fire her?" one senior official vented, according to a source in the room at the time. She was considered almost untouchable, at least until Priebus’s successor John Kelly ousted her in what was described to The Daily Beast late last year as a “ruckus” and reality-TV-style dramatics.
Manigault Newman, who did not respond to a request for comment on this story, is currently promoting her new book, UNHINGED, which paints a picture of Trump as a racist in mental decline.
That’s put her on the outs, likely forever, with the man she used to tell (practically anyone who would listen) was her “good friend.” Trump loyalists, for their part, are lining up to take swings at her as she embarks on her media tour.
“It was very disappointing, albeit unsurprising, that Omarosa would become malefic towards a man who helped create her brand, fund her ventures, and invest in her future by handing her a top accommodation in the White House,” Katrina Pierson, a senior adviser on Trump’s re-election campaign, told The Daily Beast on Friday. Pierson added that Manigault Newman is now being “disloyal for personal gain.”
Manigault Newman’s racism allegations were first reported by The Guardian on Friday morning. In her book, she claims to have spoken with someone with knowledge of Trump uttering the “N-word.” But in a subsequent interview with NPR, Manigault Newman told a different version of events: that she herself had heard the recording, ostensibly from Apprentice outtakes.
The book also recounts racist comments she says that Trump directed at George Conway, an attorney and the husband of White House counselor Kellyanne Conway. George Conway, himself a Trump critic, dismissed her allegations on Friday, calling them “ridiculous” and “not credible.”
Manigault Newman appears to be gearing up for a marathon week of book-promotion, as she’s teased outlandish claims about her supposed knowledge of Trump’s illegitimate children and her fear that the president will have her killed.
Even as figures cited in the book refute her claims, Manigault Newman has captured Washington’s attention by promising documentary evidence—including recordings of conversations with the president, first reported on in The Daily Beast—backing up at least some of the claims in her book.
Trump himself has yet to respond publicly to the book, but White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders dismissed Manigault Newman’s claims in a statement on Friday morning.
“Instead of telling the truth about all the good President Trump and his administration are doing to make America safe and prosperous, this book is riddled with lies and false accusations,” Sanders said. “It’s sad that a disgruntled former White House employee is trying to profit off these false attacks, and even worse that the media would now give her a platform, after not taking her seriously when she had only positive things to say about the President during her time in the administration.”
The White House’s calibrated pushback to Manigault Newman’s book appears purposefully different to Team Trump’s response, including from the president himself, to author Michael Wolff’s book about the administration published in January. Titled Fire and Fury, Wolff’s account of the new administration’s chaotic first year caught the White House off guard, and led directly to then-Trump confidant and key book source Steve Bannon’s downfall and exile from Trumpworld.
Manigault Newman’s media rounds come as the White House braces for the release next month of veteran reporter Bob Woodward’s Fear: Trump in the White House, which is already climbing best-seller lists based on advance sales and is expected to contain significant reporting on the West Wing’s inner workings in the Trump era.