What do you think? Leave a respectful comment.

Omarosa: I never signed that ‘draconian’ White House nondisclosure agreement

Former White House adviser Omarosa Manigault Newman refuted President Donald Trump’s claim Monday that she signed a nondisclosure agreement, saying she never agreed to keep quiet about her work as a senior administration official.

Trump tweeted Monday that Manigault Newman, who is promoting her new book “Unhinged: An Insider Account of the Trump White House,” which is highly critical of the president, signed a nondisclosure agreement though he didn’t specify when.

Manigault Newman said Monday she signed a nondisclosure agreement, known as an NDA during her time starring alongside Trump on the reality television show “The Apprentice” in 2003, and again when she worked for Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign. But Manigault Newman, who was fired from the White House last year, said she did not agree to sign a nondisclosure agreement after Trump took office.

“I never signed that draconian NDA that they presented to me when I walked into the White House,” Newman told the PBS NewsHour anchor and managing editor Judy Woodruff.

The White House reportedly asked employees to sign nondisclosure agreements once Trump took office, in a break from past administrations. The agreements are common in some industries but not in the federal government.

In promoting her book, Manigault Newman has also grabbed headlines by sharing two recordings she secretly made in the White House, including one of her firing by White House Chief of Staff John Kelly in December. On Monday, she said she would release more tapes soon.

“I have a significant amount, in fact a treasure trove of multimedia backup for everything,” Newman said.

Manigault Newman has faced criticism for recording conversations in the White House; the one with Kelly where she was fired took place in the Situation Room, where taping events is prohibited. She also drew criticism during her time at the White House.

Trump on Monday called Manigault Newman “wacky” and a “lowlife” on Twitter. White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders also criticized Manigault Newman’s portrayal of the Trump White House.

But Manigault Newman has defended the recordings, and said Monday the contents of the tapes could include evidence of corruption she alleges she saw inside the Trump administration. When asked to share a specific example of corruption, Newman instead said she would “reserve that for the authorities.”

“I prefer to do that not in the court of public opinion, but in the court of law, because it is very serious,” she added.

Other highlights from the interview:

Manigault Newman said Trump’s response to the white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, last year was politically motivated. Newman said Trump’s controversial comments after Charlottesville blaming the violence on “both sides” made her want to leave the administration. She also suggested the White House’s response was politically motivated.

“In some ways this administration refused to act because there was a Democratic governor,” Newman said, referring to then-Gov. Terry McAuliffe. Manigault Newman claimed Trump said “‘Just let them deal with it. They’ll get the situation under control.'”

Newman said she publicly defended Trump the day after the Charlottesville protests because the president asked her to. ”There weren’t many people from the administration that would” defend Trump at the time, she said.

“I was going down the wrong path.” The former reality television star worked alongside Trump for 15 years inside and outside the White House. At the White House, she served in a high-profile role as the liaison to the African American community.

Newman said she developed a “blind spot” for the president that she wasn’t able to recognize until she left the White House, adding that Trump was a leader with a “cult” of followers.

“I was going down the wrong path following Donald Trump,” Newman said. “I had no idea that supporting Donald Trump in the way that I was was causing so much damage until I was on the outside.”

Read the Full Transcript

  • Judy Woodruff:

    A racist, a bigot and a misogynist — those are just some of the explosive claims made against President Trump by his long-time associate and former White House advisor Omarosa Manigault Newman in her new book, "Unhinged".

    Her relationship with the president began in 2003 when she was a contestant on the first season of the reality TV show "The Apprentice". She joined the Trump campaign in 2016 as director of African- American outreach and went on to become the highest ranking African-American in the West Wing until she was fired last December.

    And Omarosa Manigault Newman joins us now.

    Thank you for being at the NewsHour.

  • Omarosa Manigault Newman:

    So glad to be here with you, Judy.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    So, you have gotten the president's attention today and yesterday. He has come out with a string of comments calling you low life, I'm quoting, wacky, that he rarely saw you. He heard were you nasty to people, that you constantly missed work.

    White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders says you lack character and integrity and the book is riddled with lies. And you are trying to profit off of him.

    (LAUGHTER)

  • Omarosa Manigault Newman:

    It's fascinating that the book isn't even out, so she hasn't read it. So she wouldn't know what's in the book. But moreover, I think that it's interesting that he also insults a lot of African-Americans with those same types of slurs and words. But that's the way he is, unfortunately.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    But after all of those years of knowing him, surprised that he would come down so hard on you.

  • Omarosa Manigault Newman:

    Yes, some what. Because we had a very close relationship, as you stated at the open. I met him in 2003, I was still in my 20s. And I wanted to be like him.

    I grew up in poverty, so I thought I want to be a billionaire one day. I'll go and work for Donald Trump. I'll go try to be on "The Apprentice" and be successful.

    But 15 years later, I never would imagine that he as the president of the United States would call me a low life.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    What about what Sarah Sanders is saying? I mean, these are very strong words coming from her? Do you — do you think she is misled or is she purposefully deceiving because the president is asking her to?

  • Omarosa Manigault Newman:

    I think that she is taking guidance from him. I mean, she says whatever he tells her to say. And I would hope that she would kind of reconsider that position because she is compromising herself every single day that she lies from the podium to the American people.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Well, let's take some of the charges you made one by one.

  • Omarosa Manigault Newman:

    Sure.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    You're calling the president a racist.

  • Omarosa Manigault Newman:

    Uh-huh.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    We know there have been a number of statements from Donald Trump over the years calling judges Mexicans, who are of Mexican heritage, the years that he spent challenging President Obama about where he was born, those things that you — you were involved with the president. You were working with him, near him, close to him during all that time. Those things didn't bother you enough to cause you to separate yourself from him?

  • Omarosa Manigault Newman:

    Well, that's one of the most dramatic scenes in "Unhinged" where I talk about taking him to task for the birther movement. And he just kind of wrote it off as kind of political hyperbole and he said it's par for the course when you're in politics.

    And I want it to be clear that in some ways, I was very complicit by going into this White House and continuing some of those misconceptions and that lie that he continued to tell.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    But you believed his explanation?

  • Omarosa Manigault Newman:

    I did, because I had a blind spot where it came to Donald Trump. We were very close. And if he said it, in some ways, I believed it.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Well, you know, just following up on that, even when, after he was president, the Charlottesville incident, the comment that they're talking about both sides bear blame, you write in the book about being troubled by that but not enough to do anything about it. You went on television and defended him.

  • Omarosa Manigault Newman:

    Yes, I was asked by the president to go on television and defend him because there weren't many people from the administration that would. And it was before he equivocated both sides, good people on both sides, it would be a day or two later after that interview that I gave that he said those things.

    And so, of course, hindsight is 20/20, but when we look at the one year anniversary of Charlottesville, I was just completely aggrieved, particularly over the weekend thinking about Heather Heyer, the young woman who lost her life because in some ways, this administration refused to act because there was a Democratic governor and he said, just let them deal with it, they will get this situation under control.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    But a number of people are saying, why didn't you do something at the time it happened? At the time he made that statement?

  • Omarosa Manigault Newman:

    Yes, I described very clearly what I did, and how I reacted and responded. And as the only African-American voice, as loud as I screamed, there were 29 others who had a different opinion as to how we should approach Charlottesville.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Well, speaking of being the only African-American voice, the former chairman of the Republican National Committee, Michael Steele, said yesterday that he was among the group of people who put together a list of highly qualified African-American Republicans who worked in previous White Houses who were prepared to go to work for Donald Trump, but that you blocked any of them from having a job opportunity.

  • Omarosa Manigault Newman:

    I find that fascinating because in one hand, they say that I didn't have any power. I wasn't effective. I couldn't influence what happened in the White House. And then on the other hand, they said I have the ability to keep a long list of people out of the White House.

    You really can't have it both ways. In fact, he submitted that list during the transition. I wasn't in the White House yet. I wasn't making decisions.

    So, that really actually undermines Reince Priebus' ability to actually put together an effective administration, not me. I wasn't the head of presidential personnel in the White House. And so, that assertion is kind of absurd when you think about it.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Women, the president's views of women. You write a number of disturbing things throughout the book, misogynistic things. But again, you write you had a blind spot.

  • Omarosa Manigault Newman:

    I did.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Time after time after time.

  • Omarosa Manigault Newman:

    I did. I also write about being a part —

  • Judy Woodruff:

    You seem very calm about it now but —

  • Omarosa Manigault Newman:

    Well, because you know, I also write about being a part of what I call the Trump world cult, it's a cult of personality and I was caught up in it. And I —

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Is it being brainwashed? I mean, what is it?

  • Omarosa Manigault Newman:

    I think when you're a part of a cult, you don't realize that what you're doing is completely against the grain and it's undermining the very fabric of our democracy. I had no idea that supporting Donald Trump and the way that I was, was causing so much damage until I was on the outside and I had a good way to take a view of what was happening. But I accept full responsibility for what I did and I have great regret for that.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    But is it — again, looking at it from the outside, it looks as if you're a woman of intelligence, a woman who could make her own decisions, but it's almost as if you were — you're saying you were blindly following instructions.

  • Omarosa Manigault Newman:

    I was, I was. You know, I lost my father, I talk about this in the first two chapters. My father was murdered when I was seven. And so, in some ways, I was looking for a father figure, and I found that in Donald Trump.

    Here was a very successful billionaire, a real estate mogul, and I wanted to model myself after him. I was aspirational in a sense of looking at his success. So yes, I followed after some of the tenets that he outlined in so many of his successful books and some of the things that he enforced to be successful. But I was going down the wrong path following Donald Trump.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    You write, this has gotten a lot of comment, about what you describe as the president's mental decline.

    Setting aside questions about whether you're qualified to make that assessment, what are some specific examples of the difference in Donald Trump that you knew when you first met him in the early 2000s and recently?

  • Omarosa Manigault Newman:

    Well, we would sit in the board room, and our board rooms on "The Apprentice" would be four or five hours long.

    And Donald Trump was sharp, he was very perceptive. He was engaging. He had this expansive vocabulary, and he very seldom took breaks. I mean, he could about four and five hours without blinking.

    Fast forward to 2017 and we're in the White House and Donald Trump couldn't remember basic words or phrases. He couldn't read the legislation that was put in front of him.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    How do you know this?

  • Omarosa Manigault Newman:

    Because I was in the room, in the Oval Office trying to brief him, for instance, when we were getting ready to pass the executive order for HBCUs, for instance, or briefing him for that famous listening session where he thought Frederick Douglass was still alive.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Historically black colleges and universities.

  • Omarosa Manigault Newman:

    Historically black colleges and universities.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    But how do you know– I mean, were you there with him —

    (CROSSTALK)

  • Omarosa Manigault Newman:

    I'm not a doctor. I'm not a doctor. I can only assess that Donald Trump that I knew in 2003, and the Donald Trump that I knew in 2017. And he is not the same man.

    In the morning, he would say one thing, by the afternoon, he was contradicting himself, and he wouldn't remember that he said the first thing. Just recently, he encouraged Republicans to pass an immigration bill, a fair immigration bill and the next day, he said he never said to pass an immigration bill.

    I don't believe that that's just him lying. I really do believe that he has some sort of mental impairment and decline.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    You also say, Omarosa Manigault, that you saw a lot of corruption in the White House.

  • Omarosa Manigault Newman:

    Oh, yes.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Can you give us one specific example?

  • Omarosa Manigault Newman:

    One of the biggest examples is this NDA that they came us to with and said that we couldn't talk about certain things that we saw. They wanted us to sign it, and they wanted to use that to kind of put fear in us that if we saw things to not blow the whistle, for instance, on things that we saw. And they demanded that every one sign that.

    They didn't allow us to take it to lawyers to review. They wouldn't even allow us to email it, particularly to my lawyer. They said I had to sign it in the room right there, then and there. And I thought that that certainly was unethical if not illegal.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    But the president tweeted that you signed a nondisclosure agreement.

  • Omarosa Manigault Newman:

    He's absolutely right. I signed a nondisclosure agreement back in 2003 for "The Apprentice". I also signed one for the campaign.

    I never signed that draconian NDA that they presented to me when I walked into the White House because I knew from my prior time in the White House. This was my second tour of duty working in the White House. I worked for the Clintons prior, that this was not something that was acceptable.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    But again, you say a lot of corruption in the White House. What are you referring to? And if — I mean, do you have evidence you're going to bring to the authorities?

  • Omarosa Manigault Newman:

    Absolutely. But I will reserve that for the authorities. I will not have an opportunity to tell you the expanse of corruption that I observed while I was there.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    But powerful —

    (CROSSTALK)

  • Omarosa Manigault Newman:

    Not in the court of public opinion but in the court of law because it's very, very serious.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    So, you're going — you've hired — you're going to hire —

  • Omarosa Manigault Newman:

    I have a very, very incredible, capable legal team, which is why I speak so strongly and assertively about the things that I've seen and the things that I intend to share with the American people in coming days.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    You in that light, you close out the book by writing. Rest assured there's an army of people who oppose President Trump and his policies. They are working silently and tirelessly to make sure he does not cause harm to the republic. Many are in his party, his administration and even in his own family.

  • Omarosa Manigault Newman:

    Uh-huh.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Can you say who they are?

  • Omarosa Manigault Newman:

    I prefer not. I think that it's important that as they continue to do their work to make sure that further damage to this country is not done, that they do that without being exposed. And I'm very proud of the people who working behind the scenes to make sure Donald Trump is not allowed to continue to lead this country in an unfit manner.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    You can't identify.

  • Omarosa Manigault Newman:

    I would not ever —

  • Judy Woodruff:

    The first lady? Anyone?

  • Omarosa Manigault Newman:

    — compromise them in this way because they are working tirelessly to just really make sure that this country isn't damaged further.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Have you heard from people in the White House since you went public about the book?

  • Omarosa Manigault Newman:

    Oh yes. I've heard the threats, the veiled threats, the very explicit threats. I've heard about the damaging that they have done and destroying of my personal property that they never returned to me in December. I've been waiting for them to return it, but they decided not to after I did not sign that $15,000 a month agreement to go work in a fake job in the campaign.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    They seem determined to shut you done in some way.

  • Omarosa Manigault Newman:

    Oh yes. They do want to stop me.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Do you believe they will?

  • Omarosa Manigault Newman:

    They won't be successful because, one, I have the truth on my side, but I have a significant amount, in fact, a treasure trove of multimedia backup for everything that is not only in "Unhinged" but everything that I assert about Donald Trump.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Omarosa Manigault Newman, the book is "Unhinged – An Insider's Account of the Trump White House".

  • Omarosa Manigault Newman:

    And you are in the book, Judy.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    From — when we worked at CNN briefly.

    Thank you very much.

  • Omarosa Manigault Newman:

    Thank you. Thanks for having me.

Listen to this Segment

The Latest