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For the past two weeks, Omarosa Manigault Newman has savored her position at the top of the New York Times best- seller list for Unhinged, an account of her tumultuous tenure inside the Trump Administration. Soon, that book will in all likelihood cede its spot to Bob Woodward’s Fear, another sensational insider account of the president’s unfitness to lead, out Sept. 11. The Hollywood Reporter caught up with the reality show star turned White House whistle-blower to chat about the dueling tell-alls, Eric Trump’s “disloyal” subtweet and her future in politics (spoiler: she’s not going away).
White House Chief of Staff John Kelly is quoted in Fear as having called the president “unhinged.” I’m wondering, where did you get your book’s title?
[Laughs.] I have to tell you that I heard the term “unhinged” so much during my tenure in the White House that I used the phrase in the book. I guess I used it so much that collectively we decided along with my editor at Simon & Schuster that that was the title.
It’s just a word that’s always in the air at the White House?
Yeah, we took that title because that’s how people refer to him. And to see that that’s something that John Kelly said so publicly that Woodward would also quote that in his book is pretty remarkable. I think that Woodward’s book will be a great complement to mine in the sense that people will see there are some serious things that are emerging about Donald Trump. The way he has decided to approach the presidency, his ability to actually fulfill the duties and responsibilities of the office. More importantly, how he treats the staff in the White House.
Which is how? Abusively?
I would say so. In my book I note the fact that he talks bad about everyone behind their backs. That he has derogatory nicknames for individuals and how he berates senior staffers in ways that is just so inhuman. I think you’ll see a lot of those things in Woodward’s book.
Another thing that’s making headlines is that things are furtively swiped from his desk before he gets a chance to see them. I know that you tried to put some things on his desk that never made it to his eyes.
We were very careful about what we put on and what we removed and who put what on when. Document management was important. I wrote about delivering things and removing things and circumventing the Presidential Records Act in the process. At the time, I didn’t know I was doing that. It’s fascinating to see Woodward talk about Gary Cohn and Rob Porter doing similar things, knowing certain things may trigger him, him requesting things that were bizarre. Some of the things he requested I did print out and share with him, because I didn’t see any harm in them. I didn’t know that some would trigger him or lead him to attack people or go on a rant. As time went on, we realized that we had to be careful and monitor all the information that he had had access to because it could affect decisions that could impact the world.
You describe someone that needs to be contained — that he’s out of control, that he’s lost his mental faculties. Now as we’re watching these Brett Kavanaugh hearings, what is your feeling about Trump’s fitness to appoint a Supreme Court judge?
The future of Donald Trump’s presidency hinges on the confirmation of Kavanaugh. Because I expect for the midterms to not necessarily go his way and what I foresee is potential impeachment hearings. And if it involves the court, the only saving grace for him will be having a court that will be a little more lenient in those regards. Kavanaugh’s going to get confirmed because the numbers are there. The numbers don’t change and it is what it is. His appointment was important for Trump because of Kavanaugh’s view on his reluctance to indict a sitting president. That is why he was selected out of the numerous amount of candidates that were submitted. He was selected for that sole purpose to acquit Trump if need be.
So would you say that Trump does foresee a disastrous endgame to his presidency?
That reality set in after that Lester Holt interview when he basically admitted to firing James Comey because of the Russia investigation, which is obstruction of justice. We all know that. Once that was explained to him, I believe that he understood that he was now in jeopardy. And so, yes, Donald Trump has come to terms with the reality that he could face impeachment.
One of the parts of your book that I found striking is when you talk about him describing his son Donald Trump Jr. as “a fuck-up” who “screwed up again.” Could you tell me a bit about his relationship with his children and specifically Don Jr.? What aren’t we seeing?
Don Jr. has tried so hard always to live up to his father’s expectations and to not disappoint his father. And here he’s trying to please his father who is obsessed with Russia by setting up this Trump Tower meeting, thinking that he would be pleasing his father, when in fact that could be a catalyst for why his father ends up becoming impeached. The irony of that situation isn’t lost on me and it shouldn’t be lost on anyone who has any kind of sensibilities of Donald Trump’s obsession with Russia and Donald Trump Jr.’s obsession with pleasing his father. And [Trump] actually drafted some of the responses and tried to guide his son into how to respond and get out of the mess he got them in. I mean, the irony is that Donald had to come to Don Jr.’s rescue — and that, too, could have been illegal and obstruction.
I saw Eric Trump tweeted, and I have to assume it was directed at you, how he hates disloyal people. Did you see that and how did you feel about it?
I would have to say that I would assume that that was more directed at maybe a parent who wasn’t loyal to his mother. There’s so many people around the Trumps who demand loyalty from everybody but they don’t reciprocate that. So I didn’t take that tweet to be directed at me, because here’s a person who’s had to deal with his father not being more loyal to his mother, his father not being loyal to his next wife and not being loyal to the next wife and not being loyal to the current wife. You know? Having an affair while Melania had just given birth to their son. That quote could have been directed at anybody in Trump’s world.
So you’re saying there’s a hypocrisy to that tweet.
Oh, my gosh, I mean totally. I mean, his brother cheated on Vanessa. There’s a long list of examples of lack of loyalty in that world that I can’t say that I would be the first person that comes to mind when it comes to a lack of loyalty. He should have probably thought twice before tweeting that.
Reports are now saying you taped every conversation during your time in the White House. How many recordings are there and are you going to release any others?
Because I am in the middle of arbitration with the President of the United States, arbitration proceedings and in this legal battle Donald Trump has decided to sic his entire legal team on me, I unfortunately can’t talk about the number and nature or depth of those recordings because they are a part of that arbitration proceeding.
Can you talk about the one’s you’ve already released?
I can talk somewhat about the context of them, which I’d like to point out is that I only released recordings when people questioned the validity of the book. And specific scenarios in the book. In each instance, I had to kind of hit back because the White House had started a campaign to say that I had no credibility and that things I wrote about, particularly the situation where Kelly fired me, were not true. If it’s in quotes and it’s in the book, it has been verified, corroborated and validated. And there’s documentation to back it.
You haven’t divulged how you made the recordings.
No, I haven’t. Unfortunately because of the arbitration proceedings, which must lead your readers to question what Donald Trump is so afraid of. Why are they going to the expense that they are? And hire this expensive legal team to battle little old me if they have nothing to hide? What are they trying to accomplish?
Well, what is the threat hanging over you right now?
I have absolutely no idea. With arbitration it’s a closed process. I hope that everything that happens in arbitration at some point can be made public so that people can see the battle that I’m fighting.
Now that you have written a best-seller, are you going to go on any kind of speaking tours? What’s next for you?
I have a whole plethora of offers and deals that I’m considering. But my main focus right now is the midterms. And you’ll see me working in grassroots efforts to make sure that the midterms turn out more in a positive way for this country and help us regain some sense of dignity in this country.
Are you a Democrat now?
Oh, no, I don’t have a party affiliation. [Laughs.] I am 100 percent independent and I will vote for a candidate and per issue because that’s where we are in this nation. I think that we sometimes have to put partisanship aside and do what’s best for the country.
Are there any candidates that you’re openly endorsing right now?
I wouldn’t say that. I’m helping candidates, but I’m not gonna make their race about me.
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