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Omarosa Manigault Newman has President Trump unhinged

Former White House staffer Omarosa Manigault Newman. (Photo: Shannon Stapleton/Reuters)

Few books have made a bigger impression on Donald Trump than the one written by fired White House staffer Omarosa Manigault Newman, not that he has plans to read it anytime soon.

With this week’s release of the scorched-earth memoir “Unhinged: An Insider Account of the Trump White House,” the president and his team have somehow found themselves blindsided by a conniving character perpetrating an act of revenge that might have been drawn from the script of a supposedly unscripted reality show — like, say, “The Apprentice.”

While it was bad enough that an ousted member of the administration had turned on Trump and pulled back the curtain on his alleged mental decline, Manigault Newman had also been in charge of the president’s African-American outreach and her book made the case for what half of Americans had already concluded: that the commander in chief was a racist.

“Donald Trump, who would attack civil rights icons and professional athletes, who would go after grieving black widows, who would say there were good people on both sides, who endorsed a child molester; Donald Trump and his decisions and his behavior, was harming the country. I could no longer be a part of this madness,” Manigault Newman wrote.

Photo: Frederic J. Brown/AFP/Getty Images

Further cementing her head-snapping reversal — this, after all was the same woman who had gleefully predicted that Trump’s critics and doubters would be forced to “bow down” to him — Omarosa claimed she had personally heard a tape recording of Trump referring to black Americans with the classic racial slur. But unlike the “Access Hollywood” footage that captured the billionaire boasting he was so famous that he could grab women “by the pussy” whenever the urge struck, an actual recording of Trump uttering the toxic word has yet to surface.

This N word accusation, and the book itself, incensed the president, as evidenced by the fact that he felt compelled to fire off five tweets about his former protégé Monday morning, the day before “Unhinged” was available for purchase.

Trump mounted the curious and somewhat convoluted defense that Mark Burnett, the former producer of “The Apprentice,” had assured him there were no outtakes in the archives of Trump using racist language:

Former “Apprentice” contestant Penn Jillette begged to differ. Asked by Vulture if there might be footage of Trump saying anything racially insensitive, Jillette responded, “Yeah, I was in the room.”

But Omarosa had already sent shock waves through the West Wing by playing a recording of her dismissal by White House chief of staff John Kelly. The conversation took place and was taped in the White House Situation Room, which is supposed to be among the most secure locations on Earth.

White House chief of staff John Kelly. (Photo: Oliver Contreras/Getty Images)

“There are pretty significant legal issues that we hope don’t develop into something that, that’ll make it ugly for you,” Kelly told Omarosa in a portion of the tape played Sunday on “Meet the Press.” “But I think it’s important to understand that if we make this a friendly departure, we can all be, you know, you can look at, look at your time here in, in the White House as a year of service to the nation.”

With the White House staff fearing the release of more incriminating audio, the president concluded Monday’s Omarosa tweet storm with what seemed like a warning.

As shocking as secretly taping Kelly in the Situation Room was, Omarosa’s next move showed she knew exactly how to ruffle Trump’s feathers. Appearing on MSNBC’s “Hardball” Monday night, she said she would gladly turn over her tape collection to special counsel Robert Mueller.

“If his office calls again, anything they want, I’ll share,” Manigault Newman told Chris Matthews.

On Tuesday, the president boiled over.

Trump’s angry tweets were a stark contrast to his frequent praise of Omarosa in the past, calling her “wonderful,” a “star,” “amazing,” and a “good person.” He hired her in his administration at a salary of $180,000. But Trump, as his press secretary said later that day, “always fights fire with fire.”

Unfortunately for the president, Manigault Newman herself seems something of a pyromaniac. Appearing on MSNBC on Tuesday, she leveled the bombshell accusation that Trump knew in advance that Wikileaks would release hacked Clinton campaign emails.

Republican political consultant Katrina Pierson at Trump Tower, Dec. 14, 2016. (Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

The next surprise selection from Omarosa’s audio vault came on Tuesday. It was recorded in 2016 and featured three Trump campaign aides — Katrina Pierson, Lynne Patton and Jason Miller — appearing to discuss a communications strategy should a video or audio tape of Trump saying the N word ever surface.

“I am trying to find out 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 on the tape that was broadcast Tuesday by CBS News.

Interviewed by Fox News, Pierson denied that the conversation ever took place. “It sounds like she’s writing a script for a movie,” Pierson said of Manigault Newman.

By now it was clear that Omarosa couldn’t simply be brushed aside with insults, so the president’s campaign filed for arbitration on the grounds that the former reality TV villain had breached a nondisclosure agreement she signed in 2016.

Omarosa’s response was succinct. “I will not be silenced,” she told the Associated Press on the day her book was finally released for sale and soon shot up to the No. 1 spot on the list of Amazon Best Sellers. “I’m not going to be bullied by Donald Trump.” (Spoiler alert: A judge’s ruling this week in a separate arbitration case brought against another former Trump campaign staffer shows that the NDA may do little to keep Omarosa silent.)

On Thursday, as Manigault Newman’s book tour rolled on, she dipped into her secret audio library and produced another gem — a recording made after she was fired from the White House of Eric Trump’s wife, Lara, offering Omarosa a $15,000-a-month job with the president’s reelection campaign. Her only duties would be to speak positively about him.

Trump, of course, is no stranger to hush money payments (see: Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal), but Lara Trump claimed the job offer was made “before we knew anything about the gross violations of ethics and integrity during her White House tenure.”

Donald Trump at a campaign rally with daughter-in-law Lara Trump and Omarosa Manigault in Charlotte, N.C., Oct. 14, 2016. (Photo: Erik S. Lesser/Epa/Rex/Shutterstock)

“Woman to woman, I shared a connection with Omarosa as a friend and a campaign sister, and I am absolutely shocked and saddened by her betrayal and violation on a deeply personal level,” the president’s daughter-in-law said in a statement Thursday.

Though betrayal is never easy to endure, it is perhaps less painful when it comes from someone with whom your relationship was, at bottom, transactional rather than affectionate. In this case, perhaps that’s true of both Trump and Manigault Newman. On Thursday, the president reposted a montage of all the nice things Omarosa had said about him over the years.

Yet, by his own admission, his own susceptibility to flattery is the thing that got him into trouble in the first place.

“When Gen. Kelly came on board he told me she was a loser & nothing but problems. I told him to try working it out, if possible, because she only said GREAT things about me – until she got fired!” Trump tweeted all the way back on Monday.

Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

While no one can say what other audio treasures remain in Omarosa’s vault and whether they will cause further embarrassment to the president and his family, the New York Times reported late Thursday that her secret stash could include over 200 recordings, enough to string this drama out for a few seasons. When the week came to a close, an analysis by the liberal website Media Matters found that cable news networks has spent just over 34 hours covering Omarosa over a 7-day period (to say nothing of her major network appearances), another aspect of the story that may not have sat well with a president obsessed by ratings. Did Americans tune in because they sided with Manigault Newman or were they, as the president argues, simply being distracted with more “fake news”? Maybe the only thing that’s certain now is that, with a plot line this twisted, if you tried putting it in a reality TV show, no one would ever believe it was true.

On the other hand “The White House Apprentice” may be less of a hypothetical than Trump or Burnett imagined. Late Friday the Associated Press reported that Omarosa not only has secret audio recordings in her possession, but video, too. 

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