Former Apprentice star Omarosa Manigault Newman complained of being squeezed from both sides in a desperate Wednesday court filing as she fights against competing demands made by the U.S. government and President Donald Trump’s campaign organization.
“The Campaign recently added nearly four hundred additional counts to the arbitration action and is keeping tabs on everything she says and does,” the motion notes. “We are at a complete loss.”
In June 2019, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) filed a civil lawsuit seeking a $50,000 fine over Newman’s alleged failure to file mandatory paperwork required by the Ethics in Government Act of (EIGA) following her short time in the Trump White House.
Newman fought the lawsuit and the fine and the government ratcheted up the pressure–seeking an expansive trove of discovery materials related to her “financial disclosure report and her obligation to file it within 30 days of her termination.”
The summer before that legal issue arose, however, Newman found herself subject to an arbitration claim by the Trump campaign over the contents of Unhinged, a tell-all memoir about her scandal-ridden, tumultuous and brief stint in government. Seeking millions of dollars in damages, Trump’s campaign claimed that Newman had expressly violated several terms of her non-disclosure agreement (NDA), including a controversial non-disparagement clause.
The Wednesday motion claims those two separate legal battles have put the defendant in a doubly-damned situation.
Newman is objecting to DOJ’s discovery requests “on the grounds that producing the requested documents and communications would subject her to further bad faith litigation brought by President Donald J. Trump and his campaign, Donald J. Trump for President, Inc.”
DOJ has pushed back, arguing that Newman “merely speculates that such ‘bad faith litigation’ might be filed, and [that she has provided] no support whatsoever for that unsubstantiated claim.”
“Newman is not ‘merely speculating,'” the motion fires back. “She has already been sued for disclosing the very evidence sought by the Government in this case. Furthermore, the president has openly bragged about it on Twitter.”
A footnote reproduces the following tweet sent by the 45th president last year: “Yes, I am currently suing various people for violating their nondisclosure agreements. Disgusting and foul mouthed Omarosa is one. I gave her every break, despite the fact that she was despised by everyone, and she went for some cheap money from a book. Numerous others also!”
…Yes, I am currently suing various people for violating their confidentiality agreements. Disgusting and foul mouthed Omarosa is one. I gave her every break, despite the fact that she was despised by everyone, and she went for some cheap money from a book. Numerous others also!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 31, 2019
At heart, the dispute appears to largely center on competing claims about the nature of the requested discovery materials. The government says Trump’s campaign cannot sue over those disclosures. Trump’s campaign says they can–and will.
Newman’s attorneys appear to be performing the legal equivalent of throwing their hands in the air by complaining to the judge that their client is caught in the middle.
Per the filing in the D.C. District Court:
Within the subject Motion to Compel, the Government contradicts President Trump’s personal lawyers by arguing that, “none of the requested documents, which relate exclusively to Defendant’s former position as an employee of the Executive Branch, is “proprietary or confidential” to Mr. Trump, his business, or his family. They do not relate to “the personal life, political affairs, and/or business affairs of Mr. Trump or of any Family Member.” They do not relate to “the assets, investments, revenue, expenses, taxes, financial statements, actual or prospective business ventures” or other interest of Mr. Trump, his businesses, or his family members.”
“Significantly, Ms. Manigault Newman agrees with the ultimate conclusion reached by the Government on this issue,” the filing continues. “That does not eliminate the weaponization of lawsuits filed against her or the attorneys fees she has incurred to defend even the most frivilous [sic] of claims.”
Notably, Omarosa points out that some of her documents refer to Ivanka Trump–and she appears to fear litigation specifically because of such references in particular.
“The nondisclosure agreement that Ms. Manigault Newman is currently being sued under, prohibits the disclosure of ‘confidential information’ regarding any ‘Trump Family Member’, expressly including Ivanka Trump,” the filing notes. “As such, Ms. Manigault Newman fears that by disclosing these communications, including the communications with Ivanka Trump, that she will be subjected to further litigation in the arbitration action.”
In the end, Newman argues that the Trump arbitration efforts are something more akin to legalistic abuse than anything that actually stands a chance of succeeding–but says the outcome of that fight isn’t dispositive viz. to the alleged abuse likely to follow any such additional revelations.
“To be clear, Ms. Manigault Newman does not believe that President Trump and his Campaign will ultimately be successful in the ongoing arbitration action,” the filing reads. “However, whether or not Ms. Manigault Newman is ultimately successful in defending the arbitration action is immaterial to her objection.”
[image via Drew Angerer/Getty Images]
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