In a three-day media blitz, former White House aide Omarosa Manigault-Newman has been leaking secretly recorded audio tapes, some of which she made while inside the most secure recesses of the White House — and it all appears to be perfectly legal.
Multiple legal experts told TheWrap this week that while Omarosa’s actions may have been duplicitous and underhanded, anyone expecting criminal charges will be waiting a long time as it is perfectly legal in Washington, D.C., for one party in a conversation to record it — even without the permission (or knowledge) of the other parties.
“She’s not going to jail. She’s not facing any charges, the reason being that Washington, D.C., is a one-party consent state,” David S. Weinstein a former federal prosecutor and attorney at Hinshaw & Culbertson LLP told TheWrap Tuesday. “There is no criminal statute that she is violating.”
That’s even true when she recorded Chief of Staff John Kelly firing her in the White House situation room, widely used as a Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility (SCIF) — a special designation given to areas where the most highly classified information can be discussed.
“What she did, however, in bringing in an electronic recording device into a SCIF … is a significant violation of security protocols,” Mark Zaid, an attorney specializing in national defense and First Amendment law, told TheWrap.
“That violation is compounded by the fact that she actually recorded conversations in a secure room. But neither of those security violations are criminal in nature,” he added, noting that Omarosa probably would not be a front runner for receiving security clearance in the future.
Such rooms explicitly forbid recording devices and telephones — and it’s unclear how Omarosa managed to execute such a clean recording. “She clearly had a recording device in there,” Weinstein said. “Given technology, it would appear in all likelihood it wasn’t a phone.”
Since her Sunday appearance on “Meet the Press,” Omarosa has released a new recording each day, perfectly timed to coincide with the morning news cycle.
In addition to her situation room talk with Kelly, the former “Apprentice” star also picked up President Trump saying he has no idea she had been fired and numerous White House staffers discussing how they would handle a potential audio recording of President Trump saying the N-word. (No such recording has been identified.)
With her book rising on Amazon charts, and more tapes looming, the Trump campaign announced Tuesday it would file for legal arbitration against Omarosa accusing her of violating a non-disclosure agreement with the campaign.
That maneuver, however, seems unlikely to fly. “They’re trying to shut her up,” Barry Covert, a criminal defense attorney and expert on First Amendment law, told TheWrap. “Generally, any nondisclosure agreement like this is going to be very hard to enforce.”
“Courts will be leery of limiting her First Amendment speech with respect to information that is not related to national security,” he added. “They’re trying to scare her financially.”
Omarosa, a former Democrat who had worked in the office of Vice President Al Gore in the 1990s, appeared on three seasons of “The Apprentice” — and also starred in a Trump-produced reality dating show called “The Ultimate Merger.”
During Trump’s 2016 campaign, she frequently appeared as one of his most outspoken surrogates and defended him against virtually any charge. After he became president, she found herself in the White House leading communications for the office of the Public Liaison and taking home a plum salary of more than $179,000 a year.
Trump White House Revolving Door: 22 Top Staffers Who've Exited, From Omarosa to Scott Pruitt (Photos)
The turnover in the Trump administration continues.
Michael Flynn resigned in February 2017 as President Trump’s national security adviser after less than a month in the position.
The move came after Flynn admitted he gave “incomplete information” about a call he had with the Russian ambassador to the U.S. last December regarding sanctions against Russia, The New York Times reported, and that he misled Vice President Mike Pence and other top White House officials about the conversation.
Months after getting personal assurance from the president that he would remain in his job as a top federal prosecutor, Bharara was asked to submit his resignation in March 2017.
“Had I not been fired, and had Donald Trump continued to cultivate a direct personal relationship with me, it’s my strong belief at some point, given the history, the president of the United States would’ve asked me to do something inappropriate,” Bharara said on his podcast.
Trump’s decision was based on the recommendation of both Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, according to Spicer.
Michael Dubke, the first communications director in the Trump White House, resigned in May 2017 in the midst of ongoing blowback for the president's handling of the firing of James Comey.
White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer resigned in late July 2017 when Trump hired Anthony Scaramucci as communications director.
According to the New York Times, which first broke the news, Spicer told President Trump he vehemently disagreed with the appointment of New York financier and former Fox Business host Anthony Scaramucci as communications director.
Priebus was ousted from his position as White House Chief of Staff in July 2017, when Donald Trump hired General John Kelly to take his place.
"I am pleased to inform you that I have just named General/Secretary John F Kelly as White House Chief of Staff. He is a Great American,” Trump said in a tweet.
“I would like to thank Reince Priebus for his service and dedication to his country,” Trump went on to say in a separate tweet. “We accomplished a lot together and I am proud of him!”
Scaramucci was the White House Communications Director for 10 days last summer and is now infamous for a wild, expletive-filled interview with The New Yorker's Ryan Lizza. He announced in late September week that he will launch his own media website, called The Scaramucci Post.
Sebastian Gorka announced his decision to exit his role as deputy assistant to the POTUS in a letter to the president in late August 2017.
“[G]iven recent events, it is clear to me that forces that do not support the MAGA promise are – for now – ascendant within the White House,” Gorka wrote in the letter, obtained by the Federalist. “As a result, the best and most effective way I can support you, Mr. President, is from outside the People’s House.”
White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon was reportedly fired in August 2017, though he insists he resigned July 27 -- giving two weeks’ notice -- but his leaving was put off because of the events in Charlottesville, Virginia. He returned to Breitbart News, where he vows to go to “war” for Trump.
Following a week-long scandal over his lavish use of private jets while traveling on government business, Health and Human Services secretary Tom Price resigned on September 29.
“Secretary of Health and Human Services Thomas Price offered his resignation earlier today and the President accepted,” the White House said in a statement. “The President intends to designate Don J. Wright of Virginia to serve as Acting Secretary, effective at 11:59 p.m. on September 29, 2017.”
Former "Apprentice" contestant Omarosa Manigault Newman resigned in December "to pursue other opportunities," according to a White House press release. Trump thanked her for In February 2018, she became a contestant on "Celebrity Big Brother," and bashed Trump in the first episode.
Centers for Disease Control director Brenda Fitzgerald resigned in January 2018 after a Politico report that she bought shares in a tobacco company one month into her role.
Just one day after testifying before the House intelligence committee in February 2018, the White House Communications Director and longtime Trump loyalist announced plans to resign.
The former head of PR for Hollywood producer Jason Blum's Blumhouse announced in February 2018 that he was leaving his job as a senior communications aide at the White House after less than a year on the job.
Cohn, considered one of the most liberal members of Team Trump as director of the National Economic Council, announced in March 2018 he was leaving after a disagreement with Trump over tariffs on steel and aluminum imports. He had previously been mentioned as a possible chief of staff.
McEntee was abruptly fired after serving a year as the president's personal assistant, the Wall Street Journal reported on March 13, 2018. The paper cited an unspecified security issue as the reason for the dismissal.
The secretary of state was abruptly asked to resign in March 2018 after just over a year in the job. The former CEO of Exxon Mobil arrived at the State Department with no experience in government or diplomacy and soon ran afoul of both his agency and Trump, particularly after reports emerged that Tillerson had called the president a "moron" following a cabinet meeting.
H. R. McMaster
The lieutenant general, picked by Trump to be his second national security adviser, resigned March 22, 2017, and replaced by former United States ambassador to the United Nations, John Bolton.
The U.S. Secretary of Veterans Affairs was removed from his post in March 2018 following a scandal over travel expenses involving his wife.
The White House lawyer who had overseen legal issues related to the investigation into Russian interference in 2016's presidential election announced on May 2, 2018, that he was leaving his position.
The administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency resigned on July 5, 2018 after months of reports about his spending practices and ethics.
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EPA head is the latest to leave the Trump administration
The turnover in the Trump administration continues.