Donald Trump spews more of his vitriol, this time a former aide is the target
Washington — President Donald Trump lashed out at his former "apprentice" and White House aide Omarosa Manigault-Newman on Tuesday in especially angry terms, slamming her as a "dog" and a "crazed, crying lowlife", as her tell-all book hit stores.
Manigault-Newman — who first gained fame as a contestant on Trump’s reality TV show, The Apprentice — has dripped out recordings of embarrassing private conversations at the White House as she promotes a memoir about her time with "The Donald".
Her book — which paints Trump as a racist, liar and a "germophobe" with a "total lack of empathy" — has plunged the White House and the president into fresh crisis, and her comments to the media have dominated US headlines for days.
In one of the latest incidents related to the book, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders had to retract claims about Trump’s record on African-American employment far outstripping that of his predecessor, Barack Obama.
Tackling the racism allegations, Sanders said Manigault-Newman had no credibility and called her claims outrageous.
She then went on to claim that Trump had created three times as many jobs for black Americans during his 18 months in the White House, as Obama created in his eight years in office — at 700,000 against 195,000.
The claim is not true, according to data from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, and Sanders backtracked hours later in a tweet. While the US economy has added about 700,000 jobs held by black workers since Trump took office, it added about 3-million while Obama was in office, according to bureau data.
There were 15.5-million black workers with jobs when Obama took office in January 2009, as the country struggled to emerge from one of the worst economic recessions in decades. By the time Obama left office, 18.4-million black people had jobs.
Trump inherited an economy on the upswing, and the rate of job growth has not changed significantly during his administration.
Team Trump’s tirade
Team Trump responded furiously to Manigault-Newman’s book, launching a campaign to discredit her and pursuing legal action against her for breaking an apparent nondisclosure agreement.
Trump had already branded "Omarosa" — as she is commonly known in America — a "lowlife" after she released a recording of her firing by chief of staff John Kelly, seemingly recorded in the White House Situation Room.
And after she released a recording of a conversation she had with Trump following her firing, he repeatedly called her "wacky".
On Tuesday, he ratcheted up the war of words to a level of nastiness rarely seen, even from a president who has shown he does not pull punches when insulting his critics.
"When you give a crazed, crying lowlife a break, and give her a job at the White House, I guess it just didn’t work out. Good work by General Kelly for quickly firing that dog!" Trump tweeted.
His comment immediately prompted criticism on both sides of the political aisle.
"This kind of language is unbecoming of a President of the United States. There is no excuse for it, and Republicans should not be okay with it," said Republican Senator Jeff Flake, a frequent Trump critic.
"How dare he? He has taken this country to its knees," said Democratic congresswoman Frederica Wilson.
Sanders argued that Trump’s insults had nothing to do with race or gender.
"The president is an equal opportunity person that calls things like he sees it. He always fights fire with fire and doesn’t hold back on doing that across the board," Sanders said.
The book and the recordings by the disgruntled Manigault-Newman, once an ardent Trump ally, represent a stunning breach of presidential trust.
On Tuesday, she explained to CBS News why she made the recordings: "I’m the kind of person who covers her own back. In Trump World, everyone lies.
"Everyone says one thing one day and they change their story the next day. I wanted to have this type of documentation … in the event I found myself in this position where, as you said, they’re questioning my credibility."
Just how much she documented of her time in the White House is now of keen interest to her former colleagues and, perhaps, to special counsel Robert Mueller.
Manigault-Newman said she had already spoken to the man who is looking into Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election and whether Team Trump colluded with Moscow to tip the scales. She also says she is willing to do so again.
Fired FBI Agent Peter Strzok is a fraud, as is the rigged investigation he started. There was no Collusion or Obstruction with Russia, and everybody, including the Democrats, know it. The only Collusion and Obstruction was by Crooked Hillary, the Democrats and the DNC!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 14, 2018
The book, Unhinged: An Insider’s Account of the Trump White House, hit bookstores and digital platforms on Tuesday.
Largely self-serving, it describes the daily firefighting of life on the Trump campaign and then in the White House.
"Donald Trump’s single greatest character flaw as a leader and human being is his complete and total lack of empathy," she writes, describing the president as a "friend" but attacking him relentlessly.
"Nothing has more meaning to Donald than himself," she says, alleging that he and his wife Melania sleep in separate rooms and that Trump has brought a tanning bed with him to the White House.
Perhaps the sternest criticism is of Trump’s abilities — Manigault-Newman describes him as a brilliant businessman but "just this side of functionally illiterate", prone to "forgetfulness and frustration", and in a state of "mental decline" that "could not be denied".
Manigault-Newman has suggested that Trump has been recorded using racial slurs — something Trump denies.
CBS News aired a recording of what appears to be her and other campaign aides hatching a plan to tamp down the damage if such a tape of Trump existed.
Katrina Pierson, one of those aides, told CNN on Tuesday she had entertained the possibility Trump uttered an epithet only to placate Manigault-Newman so she could move the conversation on.
Despite Trump’s denials, Sanders said she could not guarantee the president had never used racial slurs.
"I haven’t been in every single room," she said.
AFP and Bloomberg