Ex-presidential adviser threatens to ‘blow whistle’ on White House corruption

Former US presidential adviser Omarosa Manigault Newman has released another audio recording which she said features Donald Trump, as she threatened to “blow the whistle” on White House corruption.

The recording, released on NBC’s Today show, is purportedly a phone conversation between Mr Trump and Ms Manigault Newman after she was sacked from the White House.

It appears to show the president expressing surprise, saying: “Nobody even told me about it.”

Ms Manigault Newman has drawn fire from Mr Trump’s allies and national security experts over secret recordings she made at the White House, including her firing by chief of staff John Kelly in the high-security Situation Room.

While the latest recording appears to show Mr Trump was unaware of the sacking, Ms Manigault Newman said on Today that the US president may have instructed Mr Kelly to do it.

Ms Manigault Newman, whose book Unhinged is out this week, suggested there was more to come, saying: “There’s a lot of very corrupt things happening in the White House and I am going to blow the whistle on a lot of them.”

Mr Trump’s lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, said on Fox And Friends that Ms Manigault Newman may have broken the law by recording private conversations at the White House.

When asked if she broke the law, Mr Giuliani said: “She’s certainly violating national security regulations, which I think have the force of law.”

<figcaption class='imgFCap'>Ms Manigault Newman was the previous director of communications for the White House Office of Public Liaison (AP)</figcaption>
Ms Manigault Newman was the previous director of communications for the White House Office of Public Liaison (AP)

Ms Manigault Newman told NBC’s Meet The Press that she surreptitiously recorded a number of conversations in the White House for her own protection. Parts of her conversation with Mr Kelly were played on the air.

Critics denounced the recordings as a serious breach of ethics and security.

“Who in their right mind thinks it’s appropriate to secretly record the White House chief of staff in the Situation Room?” tweeted Ronna McDaniel, chairwoman of the Republican National Committee.

In the recording, which Ms Manigault Newman quotes extensively in her book, Mr Kelly can be heard saying that he wants to talk with Ms Manigault Newman about leaving the White House.

“It’s come to my attention over the last few months that there’s been some pretty, in my opinion, significant integrity issues related to you,” Mr Kelly is heard saying, citing her use of government vehicles and “money issues and other things” that he compares to offences that could lead to a court martial in the military.

He tells her: “If we make this a friendly departure … you can look at your time here in the White House as a year of service to the nation and then you can go on without any type of difficulty in the future relative to your reputation.”

<figcaption class='imgFCap'>Donald Trump has referred to Ms Manigault Newman as a ‘lowlife’ (AP)</figcaption>
Donald Trump has referred to Ms Manigault Newman as a ‘lowlife’ (AP)

He adds: “There are some serious legal issues that have been violated and you’re open to some legal action that we hope, we think, we can control.”

Ms Manigault Newman said she viewed the conversation as a “threat” and defended her decision to covertly record it and other White House conversations.

“If I didn’t have these recordings, no-one in America would believe me,” she said.

The response from the White House was stinging.

Press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said: “The very idea a staff member would sneak a recording device into the White House Situation Room, shows a blatant disregard for our national security – and then to brag about it on national television further proves the lack of character and integrity of this disgruntled former White House employee.”

The Situation Room is a Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility, where the nation’s most consequential foreign policy decisions are made, and staff are not permitted to bring in mobile phones or other recording devices.

<figcaption class='imgFCap'>White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders was scathing over the former presidential aide’s claims (AP)</figcaption>
White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders was scathing over the former presidential aide’s claims (AP)

Ned Price, who served as spokesman of the National Security Council in the Obama administration, said: “I’ve never heard of a more serious breach of protocol.

“Not only is it not typical, something like this is unprecedented.”

Mr Price said there is no-one checking staffers for devices at the door, but there is a sign outside the room making it clear that electronic devices are prohibited.

“The Situation Room is the innermost sanctum of a secure campus,” he said, describing the breach as part of a culture of disregarding security protocols in the Trump White House. He also questioned why Mr Kelly would ever choose to have such a meeting there.

In the book, Ms Manigault Newman paints a damning picture of Mr Trump, including claims that tapes exist of him using the N-word as he filmed his reality series The Apprentice, which she co-starred in.

The White House had previously tried to discredit the book, with Ms Sanders calling it “riddled with lies and false accusations”.

Mr Trump has labelled Ms Manigault Newman a “lowlife”.

- Press Association

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