- Jessica Wehrman Washington Bureau
Omarosa Manigault Newman was not only one of the high-profile faces at the Trump White House — a reality TV star who became a celebrity on “The Apprentice,” — she was also one of the administration’s most prominent Ohioans.
But now she’s gone.
Her resignation was announced Wednesday by the White House, effective Jan. 20. Reporter April Ryan of American Urban Radio Networks and CNN reported that she was escorted off the White House grounds screaming and cursing late Tuesday.
The Central State University graduate and Youngstown native served as director of communications for the White House Office of Public Liaison. That office is charged with garnering support for Trump’s agenda as well as organizing events within the White House.
In a statement, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Manigault Newman resigned “to pursue other opportunities.”
At the White House, Manigault Newman was tasked with outreach to veterans’ groups, on women’s issues, African American engagement, business and faith–based community outreach. Before her departure, she told this newspaper that she reviews between 15 and 20 presidential communications a day. She works with White House Communications Director Hope Hicks, Huckabee Sanders and Counselor to the President Kellyanne Conway.
In an interview last week, she said she also viewed herself as a resource for President Donald Trump.
“I have known the president for almost 15 years, he knows me, he trusts me, and he knows what I bring to the table,” she said, citing her experience in business, media entertainment, academia and in the Bill Clinton White House.
But speaking on CNN, Ryan said one of the frustrations by White House chiefs of staff Reince Priebus and John Kelly were that both were unclear what her job duties were.
“No one knew what she was doing,” she said.
Her almost-year in the Trump White House was not without the drama that has been a constant thread of her time in public life.
In August, she sparred with the moderator of a panel discussion at the conference of the National Association of Black Journalists in New Orleans and was heckled by audience members for supporting Trump. She irritated some members of the Congressional Black Caucus in June when she sent a letter to members signed “The Honorable Omarosa Manigault.” And she got in an argument with Ryan, a former friend, during her first few weeks on the job.
But in her Dec. 5 interview, Manigault Newman said her focus was on her work.
“You can’t take things personally,” she said. “I don’t now and I never did on the show. I’ve never done it in my professional life.”
“In this role you have to understand the intricacies of the political process, of the contributions to the process. We do this for the good of the country,” she said. “I don’t internalize what I do here. I just put my head down and do the work.”
Manigault Newman became famous for being a villain during the first season of “The Apprentice,” but, talking to C-SPAN in March, she made it clear that that was part of her plan. She was entering a field driven by ratings, she said, “and you know what drives ratings? Conflict.”
“I understood what drove that business, and what drives that business was ratings,” she said. “No one wants to tune into a boring television show.”
Some of life’s turmoil was sprung upon her. When she was seven, her father was shot in Youngstown, an experience, she told C-SPAN, that “shattered” the family.
Manigault Newman, 43, grew up in Westlake Terrace, one of the first housing projects to be built in the country.
“Everyone in my family was either in the military or worked in the steel mills or worked in the factories,” she said. “Some worked in the car plant. Everyone in my family worked hard. Hard work is a central part of who we are as a family.”
Her drive sent her to Central State University on a full volleyball scholarship. She graduated in 1996 with a degree in broadcast journalism. On the volleyball team, she was the setter.
“The setter really sets the tone and the pace of the game and the strategy for how to win,” she said on C-SPAN. “and that’s why I love that position.”
From there she went to Howard University and from there, her first stint at the White House. That experience, she told C-SPAN, prepared her for her current role.
“It helped me to understand that no one thing is greater than the incredible agenda we have and stay focused on that,” she said.