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Ex-Trump advisor, 'Apprentice' villain Omorosa Manigault-Newman interviewed by federal investigators in Michael Cohen, National Enquirer probe: Report

Key Points
  • Omarosa Manigault-Newman, the "Apprentice" reality show villain who became an advisor to President Donald Trump, has been interviewed by federal investigators probing longtime dealings between former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen and The National Enquirer, a new report said Wednesday.
  • The Wall Street Journal's article details the close relationship that Cohen developed with the Trump-friendly supermarket tabloid, which routinely refused to run negative stories about Trump, including ones relating to alleged mistresses of the president.
  • Porn star Stormy Daniels and Playboy model Karen McDougal both claim they had sex with Trump. The White House denies their claims.
Omarosa Manigault, President Donald Trump's Director of Communications for the Office of Public Liaison.
Cheriss May | NurPhoto | Getty Images

Omarosa Manigault-Newman, the "Apprentice" reality show villain who became an advisor to President Donald Trump, has been interviewed by federal investigators probing longtime dealings between former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen and The National Enquirer, a new report said Wednesday.

The Wall Street Journal's article details the close relationship that Cohen developed with the Trump-friendly supermarket tabloid, which routinely refused to run negative stories about Trump, including ones relating to alleged mistresses of the president.

The report says that at one time Manigault-Newman was given a job by The Enquirer's publisher after she threatened to sue the paper, and after Cohen intervened.

Cohen is under criminal investigation by federal prosecutors in New York City for his business dealings, as well as for two hush money payments made for two women who claim to have had sexual trysts with Trump.

One, porn star Stormy Daniels, was paid $130,000 by Cohen on the eve of the 2016 election, while the other, Playboy model Karen McDougal, had her story bought before that election by American Media, the publisher of The National Enquirer, which never ran her account.

The White House has denied Trump had sex with either woman.

On Tuesday, CNN aired a recording revealing Cohen talking with Trump about the possibility of buying McDougal's story from American Media two months before the election. That payment was never made, according to Trump's current lawyer, Rudy Giuliani.

Prosecutors had subpoenaed records from American Media in April, at the same time FBI agents raided Cohen's residences and office in New York City.

The Journal's article said that Cohen brokered a resolution of a dispute Manigault-Newman had with The Enquirer's publisher in 2011 over the supermarket tabloid's coverage of her brother's murder.

The article said that Manigault-Newman dropped her threat to sue American Media after the company agreed to give her a job as West Coast editor of its now-defunct magazine Reality Weekly.

"I don't think attendance was mandatory for her," Jerry George, The Enquirer's former West Coast bureau chief told The Journal.

George said that Manigault-Newman's mother sometimes visited the offices of American Media, where people referred to her as "Mamarosa."

The Journal, after noting that federal investigators have questioned Manigualt-Newman, said there is no suggestion that the resolution of her spat with The Enquirer was improprer.

Enquirer editor Dylan Howard and Lanny Davis, a lawyer for Cohen, did not immediately return requests for comment by CNBC. James Margolin, a spokesman for the United States Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York, the office investigating Cohen, declined to comment.

Loathsome Omarosa

Manigault-Newman — who also did not return requests for comment — first gained notoriety as a contestant on Trump's reality TV show "The Apprentice," where her ruthless tactics earned her widespread enmity from viewers. But the heat that she drew led Trump to invite her back to "Celebrity Apprentice."

“I’ve met a lot of vile human beings in my life, from dictators and terrorists to sex abusers and wicked conmen. But I’ve never met anyone quite so relentlessly loathsome as Omarosa; a vicious, duplicitous, lying, conniving, backstabbing piece of work,” fellow "Celebrity Apprentice" contestant Piers Morgan wrote in a column in The Daily Mail.

Manigault-Newman later backed Trump in his presidential campaign, telling the PBS show "Frontline" that, "Every critic, every detractor, will have to bow down to President Trump. It's everyone who's ever doubted Donald, who ever disagreed, who ever challenged him."

"It is the ultimate revenge to become the most powerful man in the universe," she said.

Manigault-Newman was appointed assistant to the president and director of communications for the Office of Public Liaison after Trump was elected.

She left the White House in December, amid conflicting reports that she resigned or was fired. There were also reports that she had been was physically removed from the White House after throwing a tantrum.

Manigault-Newman soon afterward appeared on yet another reality show, "Celebrity Big Brother," where she said she would never again vote for Trump.

"God no," Manigault-Newman said on the show. "Never. Not in a million years."

White House spokesman Raj Shah told reporters at the time: "Omarosa was fired three times on ‘The Apprentice,’ and this was the fourth time we let her go."

"She had limited contact with the president while here. She has no contact now.”