Having worked in the Clinton White House as a consultant for six years, I find it unconscionable that someone would surreptitiously record conversations with the president of the United States and his chief of staff, as Omarosa Manigault Newman admits she did when she was fired in December.
The mere thought of it – the lack of professionalism, the treachery, and the possible illegality – sends shivers down my spine.
What Manigault Newman did was not only unethical – it also created a risk to our national security that cannot be overstated. Foreign governments – both allies and adversaries – can and often do hack into personal cellphones and turn them into listening devices to pick up sensitive conversations between government officials.
This is why there is longstanding policy in the White House that employees are not allowed to bring unsecure phones into areas of the West Wing in which sensitive information is discussed.
The Situation Room – where Manigault Newman recorded her firing by White House Chief of Staff John Kelly – is the most sensitive area of them all. That she would put our nation at risk like this is disgusting.
Further, the way Manigault Newman has come out so cavalierly about her misdeeds makes one wonder if this was a regular habit of hers, and whether she made more recording at other times that further endanger our country.
And the fact that Manigault Newman is using her secret recordings to promote her new book so she can cash in on her White House service makes her actions deserving of even greater condemnation.
Given the abhorrent nature of Manigault Newman’s behavior, I completely sympathize with President Trump’s anger.
However, I would be negligent if I did not say that, at the same time, the president’s tweet characterizing any White House official – or any other human being, for that matter – as a “dog” is simply going too far.
President Trump tweeted Tuesday about Manigault Newman: “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!”
It was my hope in contemplating this piece to write a full-throated denunciation of Manigault Newman and her behavior. That remains my attitude.
However, just one year after white supremacists marched in Charlottesville, Virginia and an innocent young woman was killed, this is not the way we ought to be talking to each other.
President Trump took a useful step Saturday when he tweeted: “The riots in Charlottesville a year ago resulted in senseless death and division. We must come together as a nation. I condemn all types of racism and acts of violence. Peace to ALL Americans!”
The presidential tweet came a day before a pathetic group of less than 40 hate-filled white supremacists staged a demonstration in Washington – and were met by thousands of counter-demonstrators protesting against racism, anti-Semitism and other forms of prejudice.
Regrettably, calling Manigault Newman “that dog” negated the president’s conciliatory statement over the weekend.
At this point my overarching message to the President Trump, Manigault Newman and, indeed, to our entire political class is: Just stop it.
Pull it together. Work to solve the serious problems our nation is facing on immigration, on health-care, and on the expanding deficit. We don’t need more polarization and vitriol that only shows us to be a nation in crisis.
I need to conclude where I started: Omarosa Manigault Newman did something that is potentially actionable civilly and perhaps criminally as well.
The Justice Department, for the sake of our national security and the precedent that needs to be set, should prosecute Manigault Newman to the full extent of the law.
At the same time, I urge the president to tone down his rhetoric, try more consistently to bring this country together even when he is unfairly attacked, and work with Democrats to deal with the issues we face both at home and abroad.
We must recognize that no matter who we are, no matter where we work, no matter what we do, we have to work with each other as fellow Americans to address the challenges we all face.