Reality TV star Omarosa Manigault was known for stirring up plenty of trouble on NBC’s “The Apprentice.” Now, as a communications official in President Donald Trump’s administration, she’s starting trouble just feet from the White House.
April Ryan, a reporter and veteran White House correspondent for the American Urban Radio Networks, claims Manigault “physically intimidated” her and spewed threats that the Trump administration had damning “dossiers” on her and several other African-American journalists. She said the exchange, which occurred just outside Press Secretary Sean Spicer’s West Wing office Wednesday, Feb. 8, was nearly enough to warrant Secret Service intervention.
“[Manigault] stood right in my face like she was going to hit me,” Ryan said in an interview. “I said, ‘You better back up.’ … She thought I would be bullied. I won’t be.”
A handful of White House press office staffers and Washington Post reporter Abby Phillip were among witnesses to the Manigault v. Ryan showdown, according to The Washington Post. Phillip told the newspaper she did not hear every word of the heated exchange but said Ryan reiterated that the former reality-TV star’s demeanor was so threatening that law enforcement could have gotten involved.
Manigault hasn’t yet responded to Ryan’s allegations but offered an email that simply stated, “My comment: Fake News!!!” She didn’t specify exactly what she thought was fake.
The crux of the women’s quarrel apparently stemmed from an email Manigault sent to Ryan during the presidential campaign in which questions were raised about whether the veteran White House journalist was secretly being paid by Hillary Clinton’s campaign, The Washington Post reported. Ryan has vehemently denied these claims.
In the email, Manigault cited an article from investigative news site The Intercept discussing the Clinton campaign’s efforts to garner positive media attention by manipulating journalists. The article also featured a list of reporters who the Clinton campaign was hoping to influence but who were never compensated by the Clintons.
“This story suggests that, as a reporter, you are [or were] a paid Clinton surrogate,” Manigault wrote in the email to Ryan. “I pray this is not true! This could be hurtful to your legacy and the integrity of your work.”
The former “Apprentice” star followed her email up with another that stated, “Protect your legacy!! You have worked too hard to have people question your ethics as a journalist. People talking trash about the reporters on that list having NO integrity. It is hurtful to hear people say those things about you.”
Ryan, who used to be friends with Manigault and was even invited to be a bridesmaid in her forthcoming wedding, said she was devastated by the insinuation that she was an unethical journalist.
“It’s just ugly,” she said. “[Manigault] trying to harm my integrity and my career. I’ve been [covering the White House] for 20 years. I plan to be here for the next 20 years. You don’t mess with someone’s livelihood.”
Ryan said she brushed off Manigault’s threats and unsupported claims of any such dossier(s). In the past, the Trump communications official has made similar threats, particularly against those critical of the Trump administration. For instance, during Trump’s election night party in New York City, Manigault commented to the Independent Journal Review, “It’s so great our enemies are making themselves clear so that when we get into the White House, we know where we stand.
“Let me just tell you, Mr. Trump has a long memory and we’re keeping a list,” she continued.
On another occasion, Manigault gloated that “every critic, every detractor, will have to bow down to President Trump … It’s the ultimate revenge to become the most powerful man in the universe.”