Michael Cohen, Donald Trump’s former personal attorney and fixer, isn’t the only one with secretly recorded audio of the president.
Multiple sources with direct knowledge of the situation tell The Daily Beast that Omarosa Manigault-Newman, the infamous former Apprentice star who followed Trump to the White House, secretly recorded conversations with the president—conversations she has since leveraged while shopping her forthcoming “tell-all” book, bluntly titled UNHINGED.
For months, it has been rumored that Manigault had clandestinely recorded on her smartphone “tapes” of unspecified private discussions she had in the West Wing. Audio actually does exist, and even stars Manigault’s former boss.
One person confirmed to The Daily Beast they had heard at least one of her recordings featuring President Trump. Multiple sources familiar with the so-called “Omarosa tapes” described the recorded conversations between Trump and Manigault as anodyne, everyday chatter, but said they did appear to feature Trump’s voice, either over the phone or in-person.
The mere existence of such recordings represent a dramatic betrayal of trust by a one-time Trump confidant who has since abandoned years of professed loyalty to the president and has apparently decided to profit off her years of closeness to Trump.
President Trump particularly loathes the idea of being recorded without his knowledge, and felt especially irked and betrayed when news broke that Cohen had done so, as The Daily Beast reported late last month.
Manigault didn’t respond to a request for comment on this story.
A spokesperson for Simon & Schuster, Manigault’s publisher, would not confirm or deny the existence of those surreptitious recordings. “Without commenting on the specific contents of UNHINGED,” the spokesperson said, “we are confident that Omarosa Manigault Newman can substantiate her highly-anticipated account of life inside the Trump White House.”
The reality TV star-turned White House official-turned reality TV star againpromises the book will provide a candid and revealing look at her time inside the Trump administration. Part of the book documents what she describes as Trump’s “mental decline.” The president, she claims, “rambled. He spoke gibberish. He contradicted himself from one sentence to the next.”
In a page from the book obtained by The Daily Beast this week, Manigault lays out what she describes as her, and President Trump’s daughter’s, involvement in an attempted White House purge of “leakers,” with Anthony Scaramucci, the short-lived White House communications director, leading the effort.
“Along with his comms directorship, Scaramucci had a secondary job. He was apparently the hired hit man,” Manigault writes. “Very low-key, Ivanka [Trump] went around to the original Trumpers, the loyal soldiers, and asked the team to compile a list of suspected leakers. I’d already said my piece about Katie Walsh directly to Donald, and she’d been let go. But Ivanka wanted a new list and, once she had it, she would give it to Scaramucci, so he could fire them all. The final list that was texted to me on July 22 had ten names on it.”
Manigault then lists former administration colleagues who were suspected of leaking: Vanessa Morrone, Lindsay Walters, Janet Montesi, Raj Shah, Kelly Sadler (“she of the John McCain is ‘dying anyway’ comment; live by the leak, die by the leak”), Lara Barger, Ory Rinat, Kate Karnes, Michael Short, and Jessica Ditto.
“Anthony would start firing them all, after a quick rally in Ohio,” the page continues. Scaramucci, however, would last only 11 days on the job before getting fired by Chief of Staff John Kelly.
Short, reached by The Daily Beast on Wednesday afternoon, said he “never once engaged in an unauthorized leak during my tenure. I was never confronted about being responsible for an unauthorized leak during my tenure. No one has presented a shred of evidence that I was responsible for unauthorized leaks. And much of my time in the White House was spent cleaning up after unauthorized leaks, and I was a target of them myself.”
Short, a former assistant press secretary, also noted that “one of my superiors” had “falsely and amateurishly leaked against me,” referring to Scaramucci, and added that branding a fellow official a “leaker” during the first year of the Trump era was often about “coloring people with an expletive rather than having any substantiation for the charge itself.”
Manigault herself was ostensibly so fixated on helping to root out the anti-Trump “leakers,” but has now turned around to dish potentially damaging information to the president in her “tell-all”—and the irony is not lost on her former colleagues.
Her tenure with Team Trump ended in dramatic fashion when Manigault was escorted off the White House campus after attempting to “storm the residence,” as White House officials and people familiar with the “ruckus” characterized the episode. Manigault had attempted to confront the president over her supposed mistreatment by White House colleagues. One source at the time described the scene as “the closest thing to reality TV [I’d experienced] since getting here.”
Shortly following her ouster from the Trump administration late last year, Manigault made a series of media appearances that conveyed shock, and even tearful panic, over the direction of the Trump presidency. “No, it’s not going to be okay, it’s not… It’s so bad,” she said earlier this year of the Trump era to Celebrity Big Brother housemate Ross Mathews. Manigault said on the program that she wouldn't vote for Trump again, not “in a million years, never.”
Shortly after the Big Brother segment went viral, the president was made aware of Manigault’s latest antics, and according to two sources close to him, privately expressed his fury and annoyance at what his supposed longtime friend was doing. He insisted that Manigault would be “nothing” without him and that she was making a complete fool of herself, according to one of the sources.
However, those close to Trump say his anger at his former associate quickly became an afterthought. Her betrayal didn’t even elicit a characteristic Trump hate-tweet.
As the communications director for the White House’s Office of Public Liaison, Manigault would routinely boast to her colleagues and cohorts that President Trump loved and protected her, according to several former and current administration officials. She would go as far as to say that she was one of the very few people who the president could count on to stay loyal, and that he was inundated by opportunists and double-crossers who only wanted to cash in on their proximity to Trump.
The White House declined to weigh in on Manigault’s latest. However, White House Principal Deputy Press Secretary Raj Shah told reporters in the briefing room back in February, “Omarosa was fired three times on The Apprentice, and this is the fourth time we let her go.”
He added, “she had limited contact with the president while here,” and, “she has no contact now.”