Omarosa speaks out on drama behind White House departure
Omarosa spoke out for the first time Thursday on the widespread reports of drama surrounding her abrupt resignation from the Trump administration, challenging the depiction of an "Apprentice"-style confrontation that ended with her physical removal from White House grounds.
The reality TV star turned presidential aide, whose full name is Omarosa Manigault Newman, called some of the reporting on her exit “100 percent false.”
The accounts are widespread, covering claims that she was actually fired by Chief of Staff John Kelly, that she cursed when informed of this and that she wanted to speak to President Trump about it.
“I like to hear all of these interesting tales,” Manigault Newman said on ABC’s “Good Morning America.” “I have to tell you, they are 100 percent false.”
She claimed she was not fired and blamed the “tale” of a dramatic exit on a single reporter. While she did not specifically name the reporter, it seemed clear she was referring to American Urban Radio Networks correspondent April Ryan. Ryan tweeted Wednesday that Manigault Newman “tried to break into the residence” and “tripped the alarms.”
“Not only is it ridiculous, but it is also absurd,” she said. “I wouldn’t want anyone, nonetheless myself, to be able to run around and cause disruption. The White House is the most secure place in the world.”
Manigault Newman described the reporter as someone with a “personal vendetta against me,” and called her reporting “completely false” and “unverified.”
But The Wall Street Journal also reported that her departure was abrupt, and described the exit as confrontational, saying she was “physically dragged” from the White House grounds.
The U.S. Secret Service late Wednesday seemed to confirm she was escorted off, but denied the agency had anything to do with physically removing her.
“Reporting regarding Secret Service personnel physically removing Omarosa Manigault Newman from the @WhiteHouse complex is incorrect. The Secret Service was not involved in the termination process of Ms. Manigault Newman or the escort off of the complex. Our only involvement in this matter was to deactivate the individual’s pass which grants access to the complex,” the USSS said in a statement.
The official statement from the White House said she resigned, without going into detail.
Manigault Newman told “Good Morning America” on Thursday that “you should take the word of the U.S. Secret Service over someone who has a personal vendetta against me and who personally gains from these false narratives.”
“There are three complexes in the White House. I was not escorted out,” she explained. “Reducing access was absolutely correct as it should be done in that way, as people’s roles at the White House change.”
She went on to address reports of tension between her and Kelly.
“Chief of Staff John Kelly and I sat down in the Situation Room, and we had a candid conversation. I wanted to make the oneyear mark—that was one of the goals I set out to, and then get back to my life,” she said, noting that after the conversation, where she had raised “issues” and “concerns,” she decided to resign. “It will be taking place January 20 when I leave this very interesting administration.”
Manigault Newman joined the administration as director of communications for the White House Office of Public Liaison, which was designed to garner outside support for the president’s agenda. She drew a top salary of $179,700.
She reportedly had drawn scrutiny from the chief of staff.
“As an assistant to the president, we all report to the chief of staff,” she explained Thursday. “When he came in, it was during a lot of turmoil. I’m the only African American woman who sits at the table with 30 assistants—we had to adjust to his militaristic style.”
But she challenged reports of a confrontation over her exit.
“Where are the pictures or videos? If I had confronted John Kelly, who is a very formidable person, it would garner someone to take a photo or a video,” she said.
Kelly reportedly rescinded Manigault Newman's ability to come and go from the Oval Office as she pleased. During the first months of Trump's administration, aides were known to wander in and out of meetings, a practice Kelly ended across the board. She also, reportedly, drew Kelly's ire by occasionally going around him to slip news articles to the president.
“The president reads a lot of news, watches a lot of news, and if he had a question, he would call and ask me,” she said. “Certainly I had more access than most, and people had problems with that. People have problems with my 14 year relationship with him.”
Manigault Newman commended Kelly for bringing “much needed order” to the West Wing, but said her access to Trump, with whom she had a close professional relationship for more than a decade, was not limited or restricted.
“Thank you Omarosa for your service! I wish you continued success,” Trump tweeted late Wednesday.
When asked about her stance on some of the president’s comments, specifically regarding the riots in Charlottesville, Va. in August, she noted that she has to “be careful” because she is still serving, but she has a “story” about her time working in the administration that she will share.
“There were a lot of things that I observed,” Manigault Newman said. “As the only African American woman in this White House, I have seen things that have made me uncomfortable, that have upset me and affected me deeply and emotionally. When I can tell my story, it is a profound story that I know the world will want to hear.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.