WASHINGTON (CBSMiami/AP) — President Donald Trump’s campaign is filing an arbitration action against former aide Omarosa Manigault Newman alleging breach of a secrecy agreement. This, as a war of words between the two escalates.
The arbitration filing is the first legal action the Trump campaign has taken since Manigault Newman published a tell-all book about her time as a Trump campaign adviser and senior White House official.
President Trump fired off a series of Twitter insults aimed at Manigault Newman saying she lied when she called him a racist who has said the N-word on tape. The president tweeted Monday night, “I don’t have that word in my vocabulary and never have. She made it up.” But a new recording, obtained by CBS News overnight, seems to back up Omarosa’s story that several Trump advisers discussed an alleged tape during the 2016 campaign.
Tuesday morning, Manigault Newman appeared on CBS This Morning.
“I did not hear it until after I closed the book,” Manigualt Newman said on CBS This Morning Tuesday.
The former White House Aide says she recently heard a tape of President Trump using the N-word during his time on The Apprentice.
“Had I heard it while working in the White House I would have left immediately,” she said.
Omarosa claims the Trump campaign was aware of the existence of the tape. In a recording obtained by CBS News from October 2016, Omarosa discusses the alleged existence of the tape with Lynne Patton, then-assistant to Eric Trump, and former spokesperson Katrina Pierson in which they discuss how to deal with the potential fallout from its release.
“I am trying to find at least what context it was used in to help us maybe try to figure out a way to spin it,” Pierson is heard saying.
Patton then described a conversation she had with then-candidate Trump about making the slur.
Patton: “I said, ‘Well, sir, can you think of anytime where this happened?’ And he said, ‘no.'”
Omarosa: “Well, that is not true.”
Patton: “He goes, how do you think I should handle it and I told him exactly what you just said, Omarosa, which is well, it depends on what scenario you are talking about. And he said, well, why don’t you just go ahead and put it to bed.”
Pierson: “He said. No, he said it. He is embarrassed by it.”
In response, Patton tweeted at CBS News saying, “No one ever denied the existence of conversations re: The Apprentice Tape. What we refuted is having a call that Republican strategist Frank Luntz confirmed Trump said it.”
— Weijia Jiang (@weijia) August 14, 2018
The messy clash also escalated when Trump’s barrage of Twitter insults including calling her “that dog!”
“When you give a crazed, crying lowlife a break, and give her a job at the White House, I guess it just didn’t work out,” Trump tweeted. “Good work by General Kelly for quickly firing that dog!” John Kelly is White House chief of staff.
When you give a crazed, crying lowlife a break, and give her a job at the White House, I guess it just didn’t work out. Good work by General Kelly for quickly firing that dog!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 14, 2018
While Trump trades insults on a near daily basis, deeming Manigault Newman a “dog” was a stunning move in a row that touched on several sensitive issues in Trump’s White House, including a lack of racial diversity among senior officials, security concerns — Manigault Newman taped her firing in the White House Situation Room — and extraordinary measures such as non-disclosure agreements to keep ex-employees quiet.
The dispute has been building for days as Manigault Newman promotes her memoir “Unhinged,” which comes out officially Tuesday.
In a series of interviews, Manigault Newman has also revealed two audio recordings from her time at the White House, including portions of a recording of her firing by Kelly, which she says occurred in the high-security Situation Room, and a phone call with Trump after she was fired.
Manigault Newman says she has more recordings. Asked on MSNBC’s “Hardball” if special counsel Robert Mueller — investigating possible coordination between the Trump campaign and Russia — would be interested in any of them, she said, “If his office calls again, anything they want, I’ll share.”
Trump officials and a number of outside critics denounced the recordings as a serious breach of ethics and security — and White House aides worried about what else Manigault Newman may have captured in the West Wing.
The tape recording appears to show Trump expressing surprise about her firing, saying, “Nobody even told me about it.” But Manigault Newman said he “probably instructed General Kelly to do it.”
On Twitter, Trump declared Monday that she had been “fired for the last time,” a reference to her appearances on his reality TV show. He said Kelly had called her a “loser & nothing but problems,” but he himself had tried to save her job — because he liked her public comments about him.
“I told him to try working it out, if possible, because she only said GREAT things about me – until she got fired!” Trump tweeted.
Responding on NBC, Manigault Newman said, “I think it’s sad that with all the things that’s going on in the country that he would take time out to insult me and to insult my intelligence.”
She added, “This is his pattern with African-Americans.”
First lady Melania Trump, meanwhile, is disappointed that Manigault Newman “is lashing out and retaliating in such a self-serving way, especially after all the opportunities given to her by the President,” said White House spokeswoman Stephanie Grisham.
Manigault Newman’s exit does highlight the lack of diversity among Trump’s top aides. She was the highest-ranking African-American on the White House staff. She said on NBC that in her absence “they’re making decisions about us without us.”
Trump’s battle with Omarosa underscores the racial tensions that have defined his presidency. He notably blamed “both sides” for violent clashes between white supremacists and counter protesters in Charlottesville, Virginia, a year ago and has questioned the intelligence of other prominent black figures including California Rep. Maxine Waters, basketball star LeBron James and TV journalist Don Lemon. He also has targeted black NFL players for kneeling in social protest during the national anthem.
Manigault Newman also alleges that Trump allies tried to buy her silence after she left the White House, offering her $15,000 a month to accept a “senior position” on his 2020 re-election campaign along with a stringent nondisclosure agreement.
The offer raises fresh questions about the ways that White House aides are being offered safe landing spots after they leave. For example, Trump’s former personal aide John McEntee, who was removed from his job in April, went to the campaign.
Trump tweeted Monday that Manigault Newman has a “fully signed Non-Disclosure Agreement!”
It was not clear exactly what he was referring to. White House Counselor Kellyanne Conway said Sunday on ABC that there are “confidentiality agreements” in the West Wing. And Trump’s campaign said that in the 2016 race she “signed the exact same NDA that everyone else on the campaign signed, which is still enforceable.”
Meanwhile, Trump’s attorney, Rudy Giuliani, said on “Fox and Friends” Monday that Manigault Newman may have broken the law by recording private conversations inside the White House.
“She’s certainly violating national security regulations, which I think have the force of law,” Giuliani said.
But experts in national security and clearance law said that, while she seriously violated rules — and would likely be barred from ever being granted a security clearance — she probably didn’t break any law unless the conversations she recorded were classified.
In the recording with Kelly, which Manigault Newman quotes extensively in her new book, Kelly can be heard saying that he wants to talk with her 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,” Kelly is heard saying, before adding that if she makes it a “friendly departure” then she can “go on without any type of difficulty in the future relative to your reputation.”
Manigault Newman said she viewed the conversation as a “threat” and defended her decision to covertly record it and other White House conversations, saying otherwise “no one” would believe her.
Omarosa’s new memoir, “Unhinged,” is published by a division of Simon and Schuster, which is owned by CBS.
(© Copyright 2018 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)