Omarosa Manigault listens during the daily press briefing at the White House, October 2017.
By Drew Angerer/Getty Images.
In the days before Omarosa Manigault Newman rolled out her White House tell-all, Unhinged, Donald Trump’s advisers were hoping he wouldn’t engage with the book, believing it would only elevate her claims and help sell more copies. “Just ignore it,” one told me, while even Melania Trump told her husband to let it go, Axios reported. Of course, this being Donald Trump, he ignored their counsel and went to war. Now advisers fear his rage at Manigault Newman is fueling irrational outbursts that bolster the claim in her book that Trump said the “n-word” during an Apprentice outtake.
In recent days, Trump has called Manigault Newman “crazed,” a “lowlife,” and a “dog” on Twitter. His campaign filed an arbitration suit against her seeking “millions.” And Trump told advisers that he wants Attorney General Jeff Sessions to have Manigault Newman arrested, according to one Republican briefed on the conversations. (It’s unclear what law Trump believes she broke.) Another Republican recounted how over the weekend Trump derailed a midterm-election strategy session to rant about Manigault Newman’s betrayal. In an effort to change the narrative, the White House announced yesterday that Trump had revoked former C.I.A. director John Brennan’s security clearance. But that only ignited a new public-relations crisis. A former West Wing official compared Trump’s erratic behavior this week to the P.R. nightmare he created by attacking grieving Muslim-American Gold Star parents during the 2016 campaign. It’s a “death spiral,” the former official said.
Advisers and friends offered differing theories to explain Trump’s nuclear response to a book that has failed to top the best-seller list, even while Trump has campaigned against it. “He’s known her for 15 years and thinks it’s a personal betrayal,” the former West Wing official said. Others said Manigault Newman’s well-oiled media rollout ignited Trump’s fury. “She is doing everything perfect if her ultimate goal is to troll Trump,” another former official said. One longtime Trump friend said Trump is so reactive to Manigault Newman’s book because he instinctively trusts women more than men. Throughout his career, he has allowed women to get close to him, from his early assistant, Norma Foerderer, to Rhona Graff, to Hope Hicks.
Meanwhile, former Trump aide Sam Nunberg told me that Trump is lashing out because he sees Manigault Newman as a “formidable enemy.” “Hell hath no fury like Omarosa scorned,” Nunberg said.