‘He spoke gibberish’: Confidant turns on Trump
SHE was once among Donald Trump's closest advisers.
Now Omarosa Manigault-Newman, the controversial Apprentice contestant who became a White House staffer before her abrupt resignation last December, is throwing Mr Trump under the bus.
Ms Manigault-Newman has written an explosive book, Unhinged: An Insider's Account of the Trump White House, to be released on August 14. And if an excerpt published by the Daily Mail today is any guide, the book will paint a deeply unflattering picture of Mr Trump.
The excerpt focuses on an infamous interview Mr Trump gave to NBC reporter Lester Holt in May of last year, shortly after he had fired FBI Director James Comey.
During the interview, Mr Trump sensationally contradicted his own White House's public rationale for the sacking.
"While watching the interview I realised that something real and serious was going on in Donald's brain. His mental decline could not be denied," Ms Manigault-Newman writes.
"Many didn't notice it as keenly as I did because I knew him way back when. They thought Trump was being Trump, off the cuff. But I knew something wasn't right."
Ms Manigault-Newman reveals that White House communications director Hope Hicks had "gone over the briefing with Trump a dozen times" before the interview, drilling in the official White House line that he had fired Mr Comey based on the recommendation of Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.
Mr Trump's representatives, including Vice President Mike Pence, had been insisting that was the true explanation for days. But with NBC's cameras rolling, the president single-handedly dismantled his own cover story.
"I was going to fire Comey. Regardless of the recommendation, I was going to fire Comey," Mr Trump admitted.
"He's a showboat, he's a grandstander, the FBI has been in turmoil. You know that, I know that. Everybody knows that.
"When I decided to do it, I said to myself … this Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made up story."
The revelation that Mr Trump had actually fired Mr Comey in an attempt to ease the pressure of the FBI's Russia investigation was a political bombshell.
It led directly to the appointment of special counsel Robert Mueller, whose renewed Russia investigation has plagued the president ever since.
"Throughout this erratic and contradictory interview, I kept thinking, 'Oh no! Oh no! This is bad!'" Ms Manigault-Newman writes.
"Donald rambled. He spoke gibberish. He contradicted himself from one sentence to the next."
Ms Manigault-Newman's mysterious tenure as a special adviser in the White House - I say mysterious, because even her colleagues couldn't figure out what exactly she was doing there - ended in acrimonious fashion.
She was forced to publicly deny reports she was fired and then physically removed from the building by the Secret Service, insisting she resigned of her own accord.
"I have to be very careful about (what I say) but there were a lot of things that I observed during the last year that I was very unhappy with, that I was very uncomfortable with," she told Good Morning America in an ominous parting shot.
"I have seen things that have made me uncomfortable, that have upset me, that have affected me deeply and emotionally, that have affected my community and my people.
"When I have a chance to tell my story, it is a profound story that I know the world will want to hear."
Now she is telling that story thanks to a seven-figure deal with Gallery Books, which is hyping up the book with lots of dramatic adjectives.
"Their relationship has spanned 15 years, through four television shows, a presidential campaign, and a year by his side in the most chaotic, outrageous White House in history. But that relationship has come to a decisive and definitive end, and Omarosa is finally ready to share her side of the story in this explosive, jaw-dropping account."
TRUMP'S MONUMENTAL SLIP-UP
Mr Trump's interview with Mr Holt was a critical moment in his presidency. Without it, the Mueller investigation may never even have started - and Mr Trump would not be in such jeopardy.
In addition to Russia's election interference, Mr Mueller is investigating whether the president was trying to obstruct justice when he fired Mr Comey. Some of the president's answers will not help his case.
For example, Mr Holt asked whether Mr Trump and Mr Comey had discussed whether or not he was under investigation by the FBI.
"I actually asked him," Mr Trump replied. "I said, 'If it's possible would you let me know, am I under investigation?' He said, 'You are not under investigation.'"
Mr Trump said Mr Comey had relayed that three times - twice on the phone and once at dinner, when Mr Trump was deciding whether to let him keep his job.
White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said she did not believe it was inappropriate for Mr Trump to ask Mr Comey if he was under investigation at a dinner in which Mr Comey was asking to retain his job.
"I don't see it as a conflict of interest," she said.
It remains to be seen whether Mr Mueller agrees with her.