The N-word on Trump: 'Nasty'
The most incendiary allegation in the tell-all by ex-Apprentice, ex-Trump campaign aide, ex-White House official Omarosa Manigault Newman — that suppressed tapes from his reality-show years caught Donald Trump using the N-word to demean black people — is also an unproven one. But attempts by Trump and his staff to put the story to rest are giving it more life.
"I don’t have that word in my vocabulary, and never have," Trump said during a flurry of tweets and retweets about Omarosa's book, "Unhinged." Trump also wrote that the show's creator, Mark Burnett, "called to say that there are NO TAPES of the Apprentice where I used such a terrible and disgusting word." Unclear is why he would need Burnett's assurance that there are no tapes of him saying what he says he never said.
Further confusing the issue was press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, holding her first briefing in 10 days. While citing Trump's denials, she said she could not say with complete certainty that the president has never been recorded using the word. “I can’t guarantee anything,” Sanders said. “I can tell you that I’ve never heard it.”
Omarosa isn't the first to circulate the tapes claim, which originally surfaced during the campaign. On CBS "This Morning" Tuesday, Omarosa released an audio recording that she said was from October 2016 of campaign aides discussing how they would spin the news if tapes with the racial slur emerged.
Actor-comedian Tom Arnold has claimed that he once had the recordings, but didn't any longer, and that he's trying to get his hands on them again, according to The Guardian. Comedian-magician Penn Jillette, a "Celebrity Apprentice" contestant in 2012, told the showbiz site Vulture Tuesday that Trump "would say racially insensitive things that made me uncomfortable," and that Burnett had them on tape. But Jillette wouldn't get specific because "the stakes are now high and I am an unreliable narrator."
While the existence of the N-word tapes remains a mystery, Trump once again showed he has no inhibitions about using plenty of the other words that have sparked accusations about racist and misogynist dog whistles. Following up on deriding Omarosa as a "lowlife" and "not smart," he called her a "dog." The tweet in full: "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 [his chief of staff, John Kelly] for quickly firing that dog!"
Sanders argued the president's comments have "absolutely nothing to do with race" because "if you did a comparison, he‘s probably got a lot more nasty things out there about some other people.“ For more, see Newsday's story by Laura Figueroa Hernandez.
Trying out the silencer
Trump's campaign announced it was filing an arbitration action against Omarosa, charging she has broken a secrecy agreement she signed while working for his 2016 run for president.
“It’s interesting that he’s trying to silence me, so what is he trying to hide? What is he afraid of?” she said on MSNBC. “I think he should be afraid of being exposed as the misogynist, the bigot and the racist that he is.”
According to The New York Times, legal experts have said nondisclosure agreements for the campaign and the White House are likely not legally enforceable, but people close to the president said he hoped to send a warning shot that any other ex-aide who disparages Trump could face legal fees and other trouble.
Not Trump's best friend
Omarosa is far from the first foe to be called a "dog" by Trump. A search of Trump's Twitter archive turns up scores of canine-themed insults, including “choked like a dog," "fired like a dog,” "sweat like a dog" and "lies like a dog." Not to mention "dumped like a dog," "cheated on him like a dog" and "You ungrateful dog!"
It's safe to say that Trump, as much as he prizes loyalty as a quality in humans, isn't a fan of dogs. The Washington Post notes Trump is the first president since William McKinley, who occupied the White House from 1897 until 1901, to not have a dog in residence. (McKinley had other pets — a parrot and roosters.)
Trump's first wife, Ivana, wrote in a recent memoir that “Donald was not a dog fan.” When they first moved in together, he objected when she brought along her poodle, Chappy.
She brought him anyway, and it turned out the dog was no Donald fan either, barking territorially when he approached Ivana's closet.
Janison: Trump's gift to Cuomo
He may not have meant it that way, but Trump's sneering mention of Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo at a fundraiser in Utica Monday night can be considered a kind of shout-out and a favor to the New York governor, writes Newsday's Dan Janison.
Nearly every state Democrat whose name is on a public ballot in November regards the president as a piñata. Cuomo has been pounding Trump policies from taxes to immigration and said in a statement before Trump's GOP event that the president had forgotten what made the country great. Getting attacked by Trump can't hurt as Cuomo seeks to fend off a primary challenge on his left from Cynthia Nixon.
Keep mum, get plum
They are trashing Omarosa now, but right after she got fired from the White House in December, she was offered a $15,000-a-month gig with Trump's 2020 campaign. That's part of a pattern, reports The Associated Press: Keep your friends close, your enemies closer and perhaps potential leakers closer yet.
Trump's political operation has made a regular practice of providing soft landings for discarded staffers, offering nebulous jobs at big salaries to aides pushed out of the West Wing, the AP said. Aside from the campaign, other refuges have been the Republican National Committee and outside groups that support both him and Vice President Mike Pence.
Poll: Let Mueller finish his job
A CNN poll finds more support for how special counsel Robert Mueller is handling the Russia investigation — 47 percent — than the 34 percent who agree with how Trump is fighting it. The disapproval rating for Trump's stance is 55 percent.
A 70 percent majority say the president should testify if asked. But patience with Mueller has its limits — 66 percent say he should try to complete his investigation before November's midterm congressional elections.
Just for fun, try following this tiny excerpt of Chris Cuomo's latest CNN interview with Trump surrogate Rudy Giuliani regarding the Mueller probe and fired FBI director Jim Comey:
CUOMO: "So you’re saying that if the president did say to Jim Comey what Jim Comey says it is, that there’s a crime involved?"
CUOMO: "But only for Jim Comey, not for the president of the United States?"
GIULIANI: "Well, the president says he didn’t say it."
Suffice to say, the ex-mayor's presentation didn't get any more lucid from there.
What else is happening:
- A Quinnipiac University poll finds 54 percent of voters believe Trump “has emboldened people who hold racist beliefs to express those beliefs publicly.”
- Sanders' weirdest rebuttal Tuesday to charges that Trump says racist things: "Bill and Hillary Clinton attended his wedding."
- Some of the Democrats' potential 2020 contenders are honing more explicit appeals on racial issues than in the past as a response to Trump, Politico reports.
- The Washington Post examined how Manigault Newman perfected her flair for the sensational and savvy use of media while apprenticing for the master himself: Trump.
- Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort's defense rested its case without calling any witnesses — including Manafort — in his tax evasion and bank fraud trial. Closing arguments are scheduled for Wednesday.
- The rapid worsening of relations with Turkey may have been exacerbated by a misunderstanding by Trump of a conversation he had at last month's NATO summit with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, The Guardian reported. When Erdoğan said he was working on the release Trump has demanded of an imprisoned American pastor, Trump "confused a process for an agreement,” a diplomatic source told the British newspaper.