COMMENT

Omarosa Manigault-Newman, the rogue former White House staffer currently tormenting US President Donald Trump, should be approached with extreme scepticism.

Manigault-Newman, a former Apprentice contestant who inexplicably rose to become a senior adviser to the US President before her dramatic sacking last year, has been trashing Trump in the media for a week, relentlessly promoting a tell-all book about her time in his inner circle.

Her claims are sensational, embarrassing for Trump and, it would seem, mostly garbage.

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We have no idea which parts of the book are true and which have been concocted to foment drama and boost Manigault-Newman's sales. But several of the allegations within have already been shot down, and she wasn't exactly renowned for her honesty or sterling character to begin with.

So when Trump's defenders accuse her of being "a totally disloyal individual" and "uniquely untrustworthy", they have a point.

Why, you might ask, are we discussing Manigault-Newman at all then?

Because she has tapes. And even if you ignore every single unverified detail in the book, tapes don't lie.

One of them is a recording of her own sacking by Trump's chief of staff, John Kelly, in the White House situation room. This raises all sorts of weird questions. For instance, why the hell was a reality TV villain with no apparent policy expertise in the situation room?

But the more interesting recording, released to NBC News overnight, is also far more troubling. It is audio of a phone conversation Manigault-Newman had with Trump the day after she was fired.

"Omarosa, what's going on? I just saw on the news that you're thinking about leaving, what happened?" Trump says.

"General Kelly came to me and said that you guys wanted me to leave," she tells him.

"No, I — nobody even told me about it. You know they run a big operation but I didn't know it, I didn't know that. Goddammit," the President replies.

There are two possible explanations for Trump's behaviour in the recording.

The first is that he was lying to Manigault-Newman, actually did know about her sacking, and didn't want to admit it to her, which would make him a coward.

Omarosa Manigault-Newman's claims are sensational, embarrassing for Donald Trump and, it would seem, mostly garbage. Photo / AP
Omarosa Manigault-Newman's claims are sensational, embarrassing for Donald Trump and, it would seem, mostly garbage. Photo / AP

The second, more unsettling option is that he was telling her the truth, and genuinely had no idea one of his senior advisers had been fired. That would make him utterly clueless about what was going on in his own White House.

Clueless, or cowardly? Those are the only options, and neither quality is particularly presidential.

Whichever scenario is fact, the new tape clearly hit a nerve, because Trump responded to its release by suddenly unleashing on Manigault-Newman on Twitter.

Here is the full rant. You should probably take a deep breath.

"Wacky Omarosa, who got fired three times on The Apprentice, now got fired for the last time. She never made it, never will. She begged me for a job, tears in her eyes, I said OK. People in the White House hated her. She was vicious, but not smart. I would rarely see her but heard really bad things. Nasty to people and would constantly miss meetings and work. When General Kelly came on board he told me she was a loser and nothing but problems. I told him to try working it out, if possible, because she only said GREAT things about me — until she got fired! While I know it's 'not presidential' to take on a low-life like Omarosa, and while I would rather not be doing so, this is a modern day form of communication and I know the Fake News Media will be working overtime to make even Wacky Omarosa look as legitimate as possible. Sorry!"

That's a fairly comprehensive rebuttal.

The only indisputable fact we can discern amid this mess is that Trump showed immeasurably poor judgment by hiring Manigault-Newman to work at the White House, let alone in such a senior position. Literally no one is surprised it ended this way.

"I don't know if you watched the seasons of The Apprentice that she was on. Very entertaining and made a name for herself by being one of the first reality villains. So I actually am maybe the least surprised person in the world that she took a recording device into that highly secured room," Fox News' Lisa Kennedy said today.

"Maybe the President's intuition fails him occasionally, when he's making personnel decisions. Look at Michael Flynn and Paul Manafort and Omarosa," she added.

General Flynn was fired after just a couple of weeks as Trump's national security adviser after he was caught lying to the FBI.

Manafort, who Trump hired as his campaign manager, is staring down the barrel of a humungous prison sentence for a range of alleged financial crimes.

Add Michael Cohen to that list. Trump's longtime personal lawyer and fixer is now under investigation, and under pressure, he appears to have turned on the President.

For a man who has repeatedly boasted about hiring "the best people", Mr Trump has an uncanny knack for picking the worst.