Prominent black supporter of Trump set to leave White House

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The White House says Omarosa Manigault Newman — one of President Donald Trump’s most prominent African-American supporters — plans to leave the administration next month.

The Associated Press

WASHINGTON — Omarosa Manigault Newman was one of the celebrities of the Trump White House, known often just by her first name. She was also one of the administration’s most prominent Ohioans.

But now she’s gone. Her resignation was announced Wednesday by the White House, effective Jan. 20. She was escorted off the White House grounds screaming and cursing late Tuesday, reported April Ryan of American Urban Radio Networks.

The Youngstown native and Central State University graduate served as director of communications for the White House Office of Public Liaison. That office is charged with garnering support for Trump’s agenda as well as organizing events within the White House.

In a statement, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Manigault Newman resigned “to pursue other opportunities.”

“We wish her the best in future endeavors and are grateful for her service,” Sanders said.

At the White House, Manigault Newman was tasked with outreach to veterans’ groups, women’s issues, African American engagement, business and faith-based community outreach. Before her departure, she told The Dispatch that she reviews between 15 and 20 presidential communications a day. She works with White House Communications Director Hope Hicks, Huckabee Sanders and Counselor to the President Kellyanne Conway.

In an interview last week, she said she also viewed herself as a resource for President Donald Trump.

“I have known the president for almost 15 years, he knows me, he trusts me, and he knows what I bring to the table,” she said, citing her experience in business, media entertainment, academia and in the Bill Clinton White House.

Her almost-year in the Trump White House was not without the drama that has been a constant thread of her time in public life.

In August, she sparred with the moderator of a panel discussion at the conference of the National Association of Black Journalists in New Orleans and was heckled by audience members for supporting Trump. She irritated some members of the Congressional Black Caucus in June when she sent a letter to members signed “The Honorable Omarosa Manigault.” And she got in an argument with Ryan, a former friend, during her first few weeks on the job.

But in her Dec. 5 interview, Manigault Newman said her focus was on her work.

“You can’t take things personally,” she said. “I don’t now and I never did on the show. I’ve never done it in my professional life.”

“In this role you have to understand the intricacies of the political process, of the contributions to the process. We do this for the good of the country,” she said. “I don’t internalize what I do here. I just put my head down and do the work.”

Manigault Newman became famous for being a villain during the first season of “The Apprentice,” but, talking to C-SPAN in March, she made it clear that that was part of her plan. She was entering a field driven by ratings, she said, “and you know what drives ratings? Conflict.”

“I understood what drove that business, and what drives that business was ratings,” she said. “No one wants to tune into a boring television show.”

Some of life’s turmoil was sprung upon her. When she was seven, her father was shot in Youngstown, an experience, she told C-SPAN, that “shattered” the family.

Manigault Newman, 43, grew up in Westlake Terrace, one of the first housing projects to be built in the country.

“Everyone in my family was either in the military or worked in the steel mills or worked in the factories,” she said. “Some worked in the car plant. Everyone in my family worked hard. Hard work is a central part of who we are as a family.”

Her childhood also gave her one of her first lessons in politics. Her church was involved in politics, and she still remembers handing out leaflets when she was seven or eight. Her family was also in unions; that, too, shaped her political upbringing — one that was initially Democratic.

“Politics is truly part of the fabric of who I am,” she said. “I understood the role that Ohio played in national politics very early.”

In high school, she became a volleyball player and — after her school librarian gave her a pamphlet — a beauty pageant contestant. Even then, she was competitive: When another contestant won the Miss Buckeye Elks contest, Manigault-Newman resolved that she’d go back and win it. She did, the very next year, later becoming the first African-American woman to become Miss Youngstown and represent the city in the Miss Ohio pageant.

Her drive sent her to Central State University on a full volleyball scholarship. She graduated in 1996 with a degree in broadcast journalism. On the volleyball team, she was the setter.

“The setter really sets the tone and the pace of the game and the strategy for how to win,” she said on C-SPAN. “and that’s why I love that position.”

From there she went to Howard University and from there, her first stint at the White House. That experience, she told C-SPAN, prepared her for her current role.

“It helped me to understand that no one thing is greater than the incredible agenda we have and stay focused on that,” she said.

Things sped up in 2003, when she took a train from Washington, D.C., to New York City to audition for a new reality TV show featuring Donald Trump. She was eliminated in the ninth episode, but not before becoming a lightning rod.

To watch those episodes now is to see a woman who had a knack for outraging her fellow contestants but remaining, for the most part, calm. By the time she was eliminated, she was famous. Later, she came back for the spin-off Celebrity Apprentice, where she got into a long-running feud with Piers Morgan that culminated in her pouring wine on his head.

Through it all, her friendship with Trump continued. When he decided to run for president, she campaigned for him and later took a job in his White House.

“I’m very honored to be in this role,” she told The Dispatch.

“I really, really do believe in the vision the president has for the country, but more important, he’s my friend. Watching him go through these things and being able to be a part of that has been one of the great accomplishments of my life.”

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