Donald Trump wants to bring Omarosa Manigault-Newman to heel. This morning he declared, “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!” In tweeting this sentiment, Trump, who has been vehemently denying that he ever used the N-word, not only revived suspicions about his racism and misogyny, but also did Omarosa an enormous favour. Trump’s mission should have been to let the Omarosa saga peter out. Instead, he has further inflamed it. Today, her release of a tape in which three Trump campaign staffers apparently discuss how to try and spin his use of the N-word add heft to her contentions. Katrina Pierson, a campaign spokeswoman, is recorded saying, “I am trying to find out at least what context it was used in to help us maybe try to figure out a way to spin it.”
Omarosa, as a number of observers have pointed out, uncannily resembles Trump in her ruthlessness and skill at keeping herself in the limelight. She originally earned Trump’s admiration by her skill at backstabbing her colleagues on The Apprentice. Now, as she disseminates a variety of recordings and threatens to release new ones, Omarosa is slicing and dicing the White House she once worked for. What really seems to have irked Trump is the contention that he used the N-word in the past. He tweeted that his former producer Mark Burnett “called to say that there are NO TAPES of the Apprentice where I used such a terrible and disgusting word as attributed by Wacky and Deranged Omarosa. I don’t have that word in my vocabulary, and never have. She made it up.”
But Trump, a connoisseur of belittlement, has a consistent pattern of denigrating black people with special fervour. Don Lemon is the “dumbest man” on television. Maxine Waters is “low I.Q.” And so on.
There doesn’t seem to be much blowback among Republicans. Sen. Jeff Flake stated that Trump’s description was “unbecoming of a president.” Unbecoming? Many of his colleagues think Trump is barking mad, but they’re not going to condemn him. At the same time, Trump’s myrmidons aren’t gearing up to attack Omarosa, either. According to Vanity Fair, “It’s also possible that the far right’s hesitation to bash Omarosa proves the heft of her insurance policy: not even White House staffers know what she has on tape, and many may not want to attack her for fear of reprisals in the form of some audio kompromat.”
Omarosa’s time of apprenticeship, in other words, is long over. She is Trump’s finest creation, but he can only fume impotently as Omarosa turns his own weapons against him. Maybe she’ll even declare that she’s going to run for president against Trump in 2020.