Omarosa Manigault Newman’s Unhinged, the latest in a growing number of insider exposés about the Trump White House, appears to contain 15 years of evidence that Donald Trump was an exploitative, racist, and misogynist boss—all characteristics that Manigault Newman says she deliberately overlooked and even helped to normalize.
Even more than the books that preceded it—from Michael Wolf’s Fire and Fury to James Comey’s A Higher Loyalty—Unhinged paints a portrait of a mentally slowing president, manipulated and managed by self-interested staff. If Omarosa’s words are to be believed, the US president is indeed a modern-day “emperor with no clothes.“
Although Omarosa had a years-long relationship with Trump, she entered the 2016 presidential campaign by fundraising for Hillary Clinton. She changed sides and political affiliation when she was offered a job with the Trump campaign. Today, she seems confident about her positive impact on Trump’s campaign and political success, describing their relationship as a “mutually profitable, loyal connection.”
Omarosa makes no bones about her choice: The former presidential aide says she was so keen on remaining in Trump’s orbit that she was willing to accept, ignore, or deny outright sexist behavior.
From her early days with Trump, filming and casting the reality show The Apprentice, she recalls being required to undergo a “a humiliating vaginal examination” and explicit comments:
Trump asked personal questions of the female contestants, like “What do you think she’s like in bed?” and “Do you think she’s sexy?” Then he turned to the male contestants and asked, “Who do you think would be better in bed between the two of them?” and “Rate how you think she’d be in bed.”
Omarosa, who says she didn’t think Trump was sexist until she was fired by his chief of staff, sat in meetings where female contestants were forbidden from going to the bathroom. She also describes Gene Simmons, “a close friend of Donald’s,” assaulting one Apprentice candidate: “On day one, [Simmons] walked right up to another candidate, Carol Alt, a model and former Playboy cover girl, talked revoltingly about his famously elongated tongue, and then stuck it into her mouth. She gagged in front of me. […] The producers loved it. Trump loved it, too.”
Omarosa got her job on the Trump 2016 presidential campaign by defending Trump from allegations of racism and sexism, she says, describing the allegations as “going through somebody’s trash” and “the lowest form of journalism.” After being fired in late 2017, however, her attitude appears to have made a sharp turn.
Trump has no knowledge of the Bible at all, Omarosa claims, and was uninspired by the National Archives’ selection of historical copies of the Bible as he was picking a book to be sworn in on. Instead, he wanted to be sworn in on the book he knows best:
He asked me, “Omarosa, what do you think about me getting sworn in on The Art of the Deal?”
I said, “Instead of the Bible?”
“Yeah. The Art of the Deal is a bestseller! It’s the greatest business book of all time. It’s how I’m going to make great deals for the country. Just think how many copies I’d sell—maybe a commemorative inauguration copy?!”
“I know you’re not going to be a traditional president, but that’s just too crazy. Whatever you do, don’t repeat that idea to anybody else,” I said. We laughed. He wanted me to believe he was kidding.
Within days of Trump’s inauguration, the young presidential advisor suggested taking children from parents who were found crossing the US southern border illegally, she says.
Vice president Mike Pence’s staff “kept slipping up and calling him the president—accidentally sometimes,” Omarosa recounts of her time in the White House. In private, she says they jokingly made references to what they’d do when he became president.
Other White House staff referred to Pence as the Stepford Veep, for his worshipful attitude to Trump. The president loved his adoration, she adds. “No one in his life gazed at him with such adoration, certainly not his wife anymore.”
Pence and his staff “are simply biding their time until Trump is impeached or resigns,” Omarosa claims.
The education secretary was loudly booed at a Howard University graduation ceremony in May 2017, but forged ahead with her 20-minute speech anyway. When Omarosa, who accompanied DeVos, asked her how she felt about the situation, DeVos responded “I did great!” The students and parents just “don’t have the capacity to understand what we’re trying to accomplish,” DeVos said.
Trump nicknamed her “Ditsy DeVos,” and promised Omarosa he’d “get rid” of her, she writes.
The president used racial slurs that date back to the early 1900s to refer to Kellyanne Conway’s husband, George Conway, who is half-Filipino.
Don Jr., says Omarosa, “had to submit to his father’s hazing.” She remembers:
“If Donald didn’t like Don Jr.’s assessment in the boardroom, he’d berate him in front of everyone, using words like wrong and stupid. Don Jr. was clearly terrified of his father. People interpreted his fear as complete and total respect and deference. I did. But now, I see the verbal abuse as a method of control. He was rough on them, so they tried even harder to please him and avoid further abuse.”
After Don Jr. tweeted out information about the Trump Tower meeting with a suspected Russian agent—now a key part of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian election-meddling—Trump told Omarosa “[Don. Jr] is such a f**kup. He screwed up again, but this time, he’s screwing us all, big-time!”
These accusations have been made before, but Trump’s controversial response to the death of activist Heather Heyer during protests in Charlottesville, Virginia, prompted this succinct piece of analysis from Omarosa:
He constructs his own reality to make himself look good, even in horrible situations, and then he repeats it over and over again until his distortion becomes the only version he knows. His lies and boasts are only, always, about making him look better, e.g., “Her mother thanked me.” The difference between Trump and world leaders who may be a tad bit narcissistic is that he can’t function unless everything is about him.
Omarosa was fired from the White House in December 2017. She claims in the book that she began planning her departure last August, after Trump refused to condemn the white supremacists gathering in Charlottesville.
Trump, Omarosa writes, was unable to see the “pain and fear his words were inflicting on the nation with his total lack of empathy.”