As Omarosa Manigault Newman continues to torment President Trump from the confines of her tell-all book tour, she has conspicuously altered the details of her most explosive claim: that a long-rumored tape of President Trump using the N-word on the set of The Apprentice actually exists. In Unhinged, she writes that her hunt for the tape was the reason for her unceremonious firing in December, but that she had never actually heard the offending recording. Post-publication, she has been telling a very different story.
Omarosa’s very real credibility issues aside, new recordings that the erstwhile Apprentice contestant handed over to CBS may constitute the clearest evidence yet that the mythical tape isn’t merely a figment of her (or Tom Arnold’s) imagination.
During an October 2016 phone conversation that Manigault Newman surreptitiously recorded — as was her wont during her Trump tenure — she speaks about the possibility of the tape’s release with Lynne Patton, who was then an aide to Eric Trump, campaign communications director Jason Miller, and spokeswoman Katrina Pierson.
From the CBS transcript:
“I am trying to find at least what context it was used in to help us maybe try to figure out a way to spin it,” Pierson is heard saying.
Patton then described a conversation she had with then-candidate Trump about making the slur.
Patton: “I said, ‘Well, sir, can you think of anytime where this happened?’ And he said, ‘no.’”
Omarosa: “Well, that is not true.”
Patton: “He goes, how do you think I should handle it and I told him exactly what you just said, Omarosa, which is well, it depends on what scenario you are talking about. And he said, well, why don’t you just go ahead and put it to bed.”
Pierson: “He said. No, he said it. He is embarrassed by it.”
Just before the audio of the conversation was published overnight on Monday, Pierson told Fox News’ Ed Henry, “That did not happen. Sounds like she is writing a script for a movie.”
And in a statement put out late Monday night, Lynne Patton wrote, “To be clear, at no time did I participate in a conference call with Katrina Pierson advising me, Jason Miller and Omarosa Manigault-Newman that Frank Luntz had heard President Donald J. Trump use a derogatory racial term - a claim that Luntz himself has also denied.”
(Luntz, a Republican pollster, has denied ever hearing the tape, and it’s not clear if he played any role in the conversation in question.)
While Pierson and Patton’s denials seem misleading at best, we’re still a long way off from definitive proof that the N-word tape exists.
Nobody on the 2016 phone call claimed to have actually seen or heard it. Trump has denied ever using the N-word (for what that’s worth), and his advisers are hard at work painting Omarosa as a vindictive, deceitful backstabber — an image she herself burnished on Trump’s reality show all those years ago.
But with the story clearly not going anywhere, the president is responding in ever more brutish fashion. After calling Omarosa “wacky,” “vicious,” and “nasty” on Monday, he labeled her a “dog” on Tuesday morning.