Former White House staffer Omarosa Manigault Newman accuses John Kelly of threats in her firing

  • Former presidential adviser Omarosa Manigault Newman leveled a number of damaging claims against the White House on Sunday, and accused Chief of Staff John Kelly.
  • She said her secret recordings were part of an effort to "protect herself, and I have no regrets about it."
Director of Communications for the White House Public Liaison Office Omarosa Manigault.
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Director of Communications for the White House Public Liaison Office Omarosa Manigault.

Former presidential adviser Omarosa Manigault Newman leveled a number of damaging claims against the White House on Sunday, and accused Chief of Staff John Kelly of brandishing a threat against her as she was fired.

During an appearance on NBC's "Meet the Press" connected to a tell-all book, Manigault Newman sought to refute a number of reports in the media that she said unfairly portrayed her as desperate to keep her job.

She defended her surreptitious recordings — one purportedly taken in the Situation Room, which is designated as a classified area where outside surveillance equipment of any kind is forbidden — as part of an effort to "protect myself, and I have no regrets about it."

On a recording played by NBC, Kelly's voice can be heard telling Manigault Newman that "serious" ethical violations contributed to the decision to dismiss her. He is then heard saying White House could cast her firing "a friendly departure" and that Manigault Newman could go on to new employment "without any type of difficulty in the future relative to your reputation."

She told the network that while she was "complicit" in the White House's tumult, Kelly's handling of her dismissal was "downright criminal." She also stated that a number of former staffers received payments as part of nondisclosure agreements designed to keep them from disparaging Trump, or his administration.

On Friday, The Washington Post reported that Manigault-Newman was offered a high-paying job on the Trump 2020 reelection campaign — but had to sign an NDA, an offer that she refused.

The White House did not immediately respond to Manigault Newman's claims, but late last week Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee-Sanders blasted the upcoming tome as peppered with falsehoods.

The former staffer who once worked in the Clinton Administration rose to prominence as a reality television villainess on the TV series "The Apprentice." Since then, Manigault Newman has publicly backed Democrats before hitching her fortunes to Donald Trump's 2016 presidential bid.

The fact that Manigault Newman recorded a conversation in a classified area could create considerable legal problems that add to her existing credibility issues. On social media, political watchers from the left and right ripped into Manigault Newman for having made the recordings in the first place.

Renato Mariotti, a former federal prosecutor who is running for Illinois Attorney General, said on Twitter that the former White House staffer could need a lawyer.

"We (rightly) talk a lot about Trump's erosion of important norms. Omarosa held an office of public trust too," Susan Hennessey, a legal scholar at the Brookings Institution, wrote on Twitter. "This is a breach of that trust, a grave security risk, and it likely violates the law. No one, regardless of party, should be applauding this."

Manigault Newman appeared on NBC to promote her new book, "Unhinged," which will be released this week. In it, she paints a damming picture of the president, claiming that tapes exist of him using the N-word as he filmed his "The Apprentice" reality series. In excerpts of the book and in public statements, however, Manigault Newman has offered contradictory explanations about whether or when she actually heard Trump use racist language.

--The Associated Press contributed to this report