Conflict and controversy seem to follow Omarosa Manigault, who stirred up plenty of both as a reality-TV star and a longtime associate of President Trump.
Manigault, who is now a communications official in the Trump administration, got into a heated argument with a White House reporter just steps from the Oval Office last week, according to witnesses. The reporter, April Ryan, said Manigault “physically intimidated” her in a manner that could have warranted intervention by the Secret Service.
Ryan also said Manigault made verbal threats, including the assertion that Ryan was among several journalists on whom Trump officials had collected “dossiers” of negative information.
Manigault, a onetime friend of Ryan’s, declined to address Ryan’s accusations on the record, offering only this emailed statement: “My comment: Fake news!” She did not specify what she considered false.
Manigault appeared on Trump’s reality programs, “The Apprentice” and “Celebrity Apprentice,” where she became known as a combative personality skilled in undercutting rivals. She also worked on his presidential campaign, appearing multiple times as a surrogate in TV interviews. Trump appointed her director of communications for the White House Office of Public Liaison in January.
The encounter between Manigault and Ryan took place outside White House press secretary Sean Spicer’s West Wing office late Wednesday. Among the witnesses were White House press office staffers and a Washington Post reporter, Abby Phillip.
Phillip said she didn’t hear every word of the women’s exchange but said Ryan told her afterward that she felt Manigault’s behavior was so threatening that it was “Secret Serviceable,” meaning that it rose to the level of law enforcement intervention.
Ryan, a veteran White House correspondent for the American Urban Radio Networks, used the same phrase repeatedly in an interview. “She stood right in my face like she was going to hit me,” Ryan said. “I said, ‘You better back up.’ . . . She thought I would be bullied. I won’t be.”
Spicer did not respond to a request for comment.
The argument apparently stemmed from emails that Manigault sent to Ryan during the presidential campaign.