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Hired, fired, wired: The ballad of Donald and Omarosa

Omarosa Manigault-Newman with President Donald Trump in the

Omarosa Manigault-Newman with President Donald Trump in the White House on Feb. 1, 2017. Photo Credit: EPA / Michael Reynolds

Lesson for an Apprentice

Omarosa Manigault-Newman's revelations about the Donald Trump White House may be outmatched by what her ex-boss bared about himself in a tweetstorm denouncing her tell-all book.

For starters, here's how "Wacky Omarosa, who got fired 3 times on the Apprentice," got hired as a $179,700 "Assistant to the President and Director of Communications for the Office of Public Liaison,” according to the president.

"She begged me for a job, tears in her eyes, I said Ok," said the president, suddenly seeing himself as a soft touch by way of explaining why a senior White House position was a good place to give her a fourth chance. Yes, the same Trump who boasted in his campaign he'd "surround myself only with the best and most serious people."

And how'd it go? "People in the White House hated her. She was vicious, but not smart." (Which suggests that just plain "vicious" would have been no problem.)

When his chief of staff, John Kelly, came aboard, Trump continued, "he told me she was a loser & nothing but problems. I told him to try working it out, if possible."

Why? "Because she only said GREAT things about me — until she got fired!"

So it's now on the record — and not "fake news" — that flattery will take you very, very far with Trump.

Could have had a fifth chance

Trump now calls Manigault-Newman someone who "never made it, never will."

But she says that when she got fired last December, Trump's 2020 campaign offered her a $15,000-a-month job if she would agree to sign an agreement to not make "disparaging" remarks about him or his family. Unlike some of her assertions in her book, this one has documents backing her up.

Also, for an interview on NBC's "Today" show, Manigault-Newman brought an audio recording of Trump phoning her the day after her firing and expressing surprise. 

“Omarosa, what's going on? I just saw in the news you're thinking about leaving. What happened?" Trump is heard saying. Told how Kelly fired her, Trump says, "Nobody even told me about it. You know, they run a big operation, but I didn't know it. I didn't know that . . . I don't love you leaving at all.”

So of course, by Tuesday morning, Trump was calling her "a dog."

The Whitest House?

Manigault-Newman took exception to the "not smart" reference in Trump's tweet, telling NBC the "insult" to "my intelligence" is "his pattern with African-Americans. He doesn't know how to control himself."

That the only high-ranking black person on Trump's White House staff came from a reality-show relationship has highlighted his failure to recruit well-credentialed African-American aides.

Kellyanne Conway, a counselor to President Donald Trump, struggled and sputtered on ABC's "This Week" on Sunday while she tried to name an African-American person currently in a prominent White House role.

First, she went with Ben Carson, but the HUD secretary is a Cabinet member, not a White House aide. Pressed again, Conway came up with a "Ja'Ron" — she didn't have a last name. CNN says she presumably was referring to Ja'Ron Smith, a midlevel legislative affairs aide who doesn't work in the West Wing.

Politico reports that of 55 White House aides in top jobs earning $150,000 a year or more, 49 are white and a handful are Asian or Latino.

Janison: Spinning his wheelies

Trump has been feuding with Wisconsin-based Harley-Davidson over its plan to get around European Union trade-war tariffs by shifting abroad some of the production of motorcycles it exports to Europe. On Sunday, Trump said on Twitter that "Many @harleydavidson owners plan to boycott the company if manufacturing moves overseas."

But Trump offered nothing that corroborates such a boycott is in the works, and while he may be all revved up about the idea, it may have no place to go. Would Harley owners replace their bikes with other brands, even though the company's main rivals are all foreign? Would they stop buying parts? Newsday's Dan Janison poses these questions as he tries to peer through Trump's cloud of dust.

FBI's Strzok out

Trump cheered the FBI's firing of Peter Strzok, the agent who was removed by special counsel Robert Mueller from the Russia investigation last year after learning he had sent anti-Trump text messages.

"Based on the fact that Strzok was in charge of the Witch Hunt, will it be dropped?" Trump tweeted. He also called for a reopening of the Hillary Clinton email investigation in which Strzok also was involved.

Strzok repeatedly insisted the texts, including ones in which he called Trump a "disaster," did not reflect political bias and had not affected his work.

'Me' versus Andrew

Trump rolled into upstate Utica Monday night for a re-election fundraiser for Rep. Claudia Tenney (R-New Hartford). He talked mostly about himself as usual,  and because of the location, he elevated Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand to immediate relevance by attacking them.  

Trump said Cuomo once called him and told him, "I'll never run for president against you." The president added: "But maybe he wants to ... Oh, please do it. Please. Please. He did say that. Maybe he meant it. The one thing we know — and they do say — anybody that runs against Trump suffers. That's the way it should be."

He attacked Cuomo on the familiar GOP red-meat issues of hydraulic fracturing and gun issues. Before his arrival Cuomo accused Trump in a statement of  having "forgotten what made this country great" and later suggested Trump fears the NRA.

As for Gillibrand, Trump acknowledged the presence of her election opponent Chele Farley, saying: "I know your opponent very well. She's been up to my office looking for campaign contributions. And she's very aggressive on contributions, but she's not very aggressive on getting things done." Gillibrand tweeted: "The president refuses to acknowledge the work I've gotten done. Sound familiar, ladies?”

Manafort's defense on deck

Mueller's prosecutors on Monday rested their tax evasion and bank fraud case in the trial of former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, after presenting two weeks of testimony that depicted him as using millions of dollars hidden in offshore accounts to fund a lavish lifestyle and later obtaining millions more in bank loans under false pretenses.

The trial now turns to Manafort's defense team, which so far has blamed any wrongdoing on Rick Gates, the former Manafort protégé and 2016 Trump campaign aide who testified he and Manafort, his former boss, committed crimes together for years. 

What else is happening:

  • While the president and his lawyer Rudy Giuliani now portray Michael Cohen as a lifelong liar, Cohen's word apparently is still good enough to refute an Omarosa book allegation. Trump retweeted Cohen's Twitter post denying that "@POTUS @realDonaldTrump took a note from me, put it in his mouth and ate it . . . I saw NO such thing."
  • At the Fort Drum, New York, Army base, Trump signed a $716 billion defense policy bill, named for Sen. John McCain by his admirers in Congress. But Trump never said McCain's name. The president has feuded for years with the Vietnam War hero, who is now battling brain cancer.
  • The Trump administration plans to scale back monitoring to enforce the Military Lending Act, which was devised to protect military service members and their families from financial fraud, predatory loans and credit card gouging, The New York Times reported.
  • Trump aide Stephen Miller, an architect of Trump's hard-line immigration policies, got called out by his uncle Dr. David Glosser in a Politico opinion piece. Describing how his grandfather — Miller's great-grandfather — came to America fleeing persecution of Jews and brought his family, Glosser wrote that Miller's efforts to stop "chain" immigration "repudiate the very foundation of our family’s life in this country."
  • Former Vice President Al Gore said the Trump administration has done less damage to environmental policy than it could have, though not for lack of trying. "They've made some mistakes in some of the moves they've made. The courts have blocked some of what they wanted to do as a result," Gore told The Associated Press.
  • White House staffers are getting discounts on Trump-branded merchandise sold at his Bedminster, New Jersey, golf club, Politico reports.

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