Omarosa Manigault-Newman became a hostile witness for President Donald Trump’s approach to the African American community Friday during questioning at raucous session at the National Association of Black Journalists convention.
Manigault-Newman, director of communications for the Office of Public Liaison and one of the few high-profile African Americans in the White House, joined a panel to included mothers who lost their sons to police violence.
Manigault-Newman began talking about losing her father and her brother to violence, but things quickly went south when moderator Ed Gordon, host of a news magazine on Bounce TV, started asking her about what she’s doing to advocate on behalf of an African Americans, many of whom are angered about Trump’s recent comments on policing and view the White House as hostile toward them.
Gordon stepped toward Manigault-Newman as he questioned her. She accused Gordon of being “aggressive.”
“When you have someone in the room, you don’t beat the hell out of them,” she told a packed ballroom. “You inform them of what’s going on in the community so they can be an advocate. You don’t walk away from the table because if you’re not at the table, you’re on the menu."
Manigault-Newman interrupted Gordon as he tried to ask her how she could sit in “a White House with a man who clearly is sending a signal to this country that” police don’t have to treat suspects gently.
“I did my best to keep this civil as possible,” Gordon said after Manigualt-Newman said she didn’t want to hear the question. “I’ll ask the question my way.”
“If you want to ask about the loss of my father and my brother and the issues I do, ask about my story,” she said. “I’m not going to stand here and defend every single word and statement. Ask questions about me or my father and brother.”
The packed ballroom began to scream and jeer. About a dozen attendees turned their backs on the stage where Manigault-Newman were rhetorically sparring. Some people in the audience walked out of the session.
She said it was wrong for Trump to suggest in a speech he gave in New York that police officers should be “rough” with people they arrest. But when asked what she told Trump after the speech, Manigault-Newman said, “I don’t disclose confident conversations with the president.”
“If you want to get to know Omarosa, feel free to,” she said. “I came in here wide open to give people the opportunity to get to know me. And then you ask about my family, then you immediately go to Donald Trump. Get to know me. I’m sure we’ll have plenty of time about Donald Trump.”
When asked about what work she was doing with the Justice Department, Manigualt-Newman tersely replied “Google me.”