Former Trump aide Omarosa raises security concerns with release of secret Situation Room recording

Tape appears to show chief of staff John Kelly firing her

Clark Mindock
New York
Sunday 12 August 2018 20:11 BST
Audio recording of White House chief of staff John Kelly firing former Trump aide Omarosa Manigault Newman

Former White House staffer Omarosa Manigault Newman has raised West Wing security concerns after claiming she was able to secretly record her Situation Room firing with chief of staff John Kelly.

The recording – which aired on Sunday during an interview on NBC’s Meet the Press – is the latest in a whirlwind of accusations, stories and recordings that have come from the estranged staffer, who is also running a media tour to drum up attention for her new White House tell-all, Unhinged.

In the clip, Mr Kelly can be heard citing “some pretty serious integrity violations” for Ms Manigault Newman’s ouster.

“I think it’s important to understand that if we make this a friendly departure, we can all be, you know, we can look at your time here in the White House as a year of service to the nation,” Mr Kelly appears to say in the recording.

“And then you can go on without any type of difficulty in the future relative to your reputation.”

The disclosure of that recording was met with swift concern for the security standards in the White House, as the Situation Room is intended to be a secure room where highly classified matters are discussed.

The presence of an insecure phone that was recording could indicate broader security concerns, critics have said.

“As someone who spent a fair amount of time in the Situation Room, I can’t even begin to wrap my head around how insane this is,” tweeted Ilan Goldenberg, an expert in Middle Eastern affairs who previously held a high ranking position in the State Department during the Obama administration.

“If Omarosa carried for example a cellphone into the Situation Room then not only did she record conversations there, but then so potentially has any country or criminal organisation that thought to hack her phone,” David Frum, senior editor at The Atlantic, wrote.

Ms Manigault Newman, a former Apprentice contestant, has been steering a media tour that has already lobbed a variety of accusations towards President Donald Trump and his White House.

She has said that members of the Trump 2020 campaign attempted to get her to sign a non-disclosure agreement to keep her from speaking out about her time in the West Wing.

She has also suggested a tape showing the president repeatedly using the N-word during his time on The Apprentice exists.

Mr Trump and the White House have pushed back on the suggestions in her book, claiming to various degrees that Ms Manigault Newman is peddling falsehoods.

The president, on Saturday, told the press at his Bedminster, New Jersey estate that his former staffer was a “lowlife”, and other White House staffers have similarly pushed back against her.

White House counsellor Kellyanne Conway, for instance, noted that Ms Manigault Newman previously praised Mr Trump, and argued that she had undercut her own credibility in the book by offering up divergent accounts on whether she had actually heard tapes in which Mr Trump allegedly used the N-word repeatedly.

“This is somebody who gave a glowing appraisal of Donald Trump the businessman, the star of The Apprentice, the candidate and indeed the president of the United States,” Ms Conway said on ABC News.

“I have worked alongside that man for over two straight years now without interruption. I have never a single time heard him use a racial slur about anyone.”

Ms Manigault Newman was dismissed from her White House position in December, and it was later revealed that her firing may have been related to her having used the West Wing’s car service as a personal drop-off and delivery service.

She also reportedly brought her 39-person wedding party back to the White House for an extravagant photoshoot in 2017, upsetting West Wing staffers at the time.

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