To hear the news about Omarosa Manigault-Newman these days you would be forgiven for thinking that she’s made more recordings than the head of Columbia Studios. She’s taping so frequently that she must have been an athletic trainer in a previous life. She’s dropped more microphones than… okay. That’s at least one too many puns already. The point is that Ms. Manigault-Newman was clearly running around not only the White House but the sets of her various television endeavors, acting for all the world like someone who didn’t particularly trust – or even like – the people she was working with.
Just this morning, Andrew Malcolm was talking about the conversations between Omarosa and Lara Trump, the taping of which was apparently a surprise to the President’s daughter-in-law. CNN has been working furiously to compile all of the recordings we know about so far but reports that she may have as many as 200. Slate had a lengthy piece describing these clandestine data collection efforts as a series of booby traps which were designed to help her take down the White House. And while she’s not doing it very cleverly, she’s at least attempting to play “the prodigal daughter” who has now seen the light and realizes the mistakes she made in the past by associating with these people.
At this juncture, she’s opted to play turncoat to Trump’s circle. It’s a storyline that requires her to perform a kind of prodigal daughter script to the rest of the world, an awakening to her past mistakes. She’s done this with typical skill over the past week as she’s promoted her book. Her strategy is not to present as an innocent: The white outfit she wore to her NBC News interview was a blazer, and the yellow dress had some off-the-shoulder edge. “I was complicit within this White House [in] deceiving this nation,” she said. And while she claims that “being used by Donald Trump for so long” turned her into the proverbial frog boiling slowly to death, in the book she acknowledges her part: “Donald and I had a symbiotic relationship,” she writes, pre-empting the accusations she knew were coming. She intends her story, then, to be a redemption narrative.
It has to be. Reality-TV folks don’t build their brands on respectability—their freedom from conventional constraints like being predictable and well-liked is their power—but they can pull off One Big Pivot in their careers. Usually, it’s where they claim that, yes, they were part of the circus, but things have finally gone too far and gotten so bad that even they must shine a light on it! Only those who’ve been in the muck know what to fix.
And now, of course, Omarosa is interpreting even the eye contact and body language of the Trump administration in the most salacious and unpleasant ways.
— The Hill (@thehill) August 17, 2018
With the crew from the Apprentice weighing in, I frankly don’t even know what to think anymore. But as I’ve been digesting these articles and the contradictory claims of the verbal combatants, one thing has begun to dawn on me. None of this paints Omarosa Manigault-Newman in a particularly good light, but what does it say about President Trump? Bear with me here.
Trump clearly established a working relationship with Omarosa back when she was on The Apprentice. We can’t see what’s within their hearts, but it seems fairly obvious that it wasn’t just a case of a cast member coming and going on a reality show. Trump seems to have seen something in her, trusted her and probably actually liked her. He could have given her the “You’re Fired” treatment and never opened the door for her again. But she was invited back to be on both The Celebrity Apprentice and All-Star Celebrity Apprentice shows. And when Trump turned out to be heading for the West Wing, Omarosa was close behind.
The point is, as I suggested above, Donald Trump actually liked Omarosa. She wasn’t that valuable of a chip to play even in the reality TV world and there was clearly no upside to bringing her into the White House administration. Trump did it out of loyalty. He didn’t just trust Omarosa… he actually liked her and wanted to provide her with opportunities. And all that time, probably going back to the first season of the reality show, she was seething underneath while smiling on the surface, collecting tapes to use and plotting against her benefactor.
The media campaign we’re seeing now isn’t something Manigault-Newman just dreamed up on the spur of the moment. This has been in the works for years. So here’s the question: how did Donald Trump never pick up on it? Why did he keep trusting her, expanding her fortunes and welcoming her deep into his inner circle? Is Donald Trump simply too gullible and too trusting when he decides that somebody is a friend and ally? Or did he really like her so much that he was being willfully blind to the snake he’d invited into his own tent?
I don’t expect any answers to this question from Donald Trump himself, or at least not while he’s still in the White House. Omorosa is now an enemy and any comments he makes from here on out will have to be read through that filter. But if President Trump sits down to pen a memoir when this is all over, I’ll confess that I’m now very curious to read the chapter on Omarosa Manigault-Newman. If he’s being honest, I think Trump will eventually admit that she really hurt his feelings.