Omarosa Manigault Newman ‘physically dragged’ from White House, reports say

Published: Wednesday, December 13, 2017 @ 9:57 AM
Updated: Wednesday, December 13, 2017 @ 9:08 PM

Who is Omarosa Manigault Newman

Omarosa Manigault Newman, the “Apprentice” star turned White House aide, was removed from the White House Tuesday night,“physically dragged and escorted off the campus,” according to several news reports.

Manigault Newman announced her resignation on Wednesday, effective next month.

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Update Dec 13, 2017 8:44 PM EST: Manigault Newman's departure came after a dust-up with White House Chief of Staff John Kelly, according to White House correspondent April Ryan, who described a "vulgar" exchange on CNN between Manigault Newman and Kelly when the former reality TV star was barred from the president's residence Tuesday night.

The Wall Street Journal confirmed Ryan's account, although the Secret Service denied its agents were the ones that "physically" removed Manigault Newman from the White House.

Original report: White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders confirmed Manigault Newman’s resignation is effective Jan. 20, 2018, on the one-year anniversary of Trump’s inauguration.
“We wish her the best in future endeavors and are grateful for her service,” Huckabee Sanders said.

Contrary to the White House statement, sources told reporter April Ryan and The New York Times's Yamichi Alcindor that Manigault Newman did not resign. Instead, sources said she was fired Tuesday. 

Manigault Newman serves as the director of communications for the Office of Public Liaison. She previously served as Trump's chief adviser on African-American issues in the White House, according to The Hill.

Manigault Newman was one of Trump's most prominent African-American supporters. The president thanked her in February during an event for African-American History Month, saying that she was "very special."
"I want to thank my television star over here," Trump said at the Feb. 1 event, referencing Manigault Newman's time on his business reality show competition, "The Apprentice."

"Omarosa is actually a very nice person. Nobody knows that, but I don’t want to destroy her reputation. She is a very good person and she’s been helpful right from the beginning of the campaign. And I appreciate it. I really do."

Her exit comes amid an anticipated round of Trump administration official departures headed into the New Year, according to The Associated Press. Last week, White House officials said deputy national security adviser Dina Powell her post will be leaving early next year.

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Senate postpones hearing for Trump VA pick Ronny Jackson amid 'serious allegations'

Published: Tuesday, April 24, 2018 @ 4:05 PM

Who is Rear Admiral Ronny L. Jackson?

President Donald Trump said Tuesday that his pick to lead the Department of Veterans Affairs, White House physician Ronny Jackson, will decide whether it’s worth it to pursue the post after lawmakers postponed a hearing on his nomination in light of several allegations.

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“I don’t want to put a man through a process like this. ... It’s totally his decision,” the president told reporters at the White House, according to Cox Media Group’s Jamie Dupree. “I will tell you, he is one of the finest people that I’ve met.”

Lawmakers indefinitely postponed a hearing, scheduled for Wednesday, to consider Jackson’s nomination. The Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs’ top Republican and its top Democrat said in a joint statement that the decision was made “in light of new information presented to the committee.”

“We take very seriously our constitutional duty to thoroughly and carefully vet each nominee sent to the Senate for confirmation,” Sens. Johnny Isakson, R-Georgia, and Jon Tester, D-Montana, said in the statement. “We will continue looking into these serious allegations and have requested additional information from the White House to enable the committee to conduct a full review.”

The congressmen also sent a letter addressed to Trump on Tuesday asking for "all documentation pertaining to Rear Admiral Jackson's service in the White House Medical Unit and as Physician to the President."

Committee members didn’t elaborate on the allegations levied against Jackson, although The New York Times reported that they include accusations that Jackson oversaw a hostile work environment while serving as White House doctor, that he allowed for drugs to be overprescribed and that he might have drank while on the job.

Jackson declined Tuesday to answer questions from reporters about the allegations.

"I'm looking forward to rescheduling the hearing and answering everyone's questions," Jackson told reporters on Capitol Hill, according to CNN.

Trump nominated Jackson to fill the role left vacant after he fired David Shulkin from the position late last month. Shulkin had been a top holdover from President Barack Obama’s administration, but he clashed with Trump administration officials and faced criticism over his use of resources.

Jackson, a U.S. Navy rear admiral, was appointed in 2013 as physician to the president by Barack Obama.

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Trump pick to head VA in trouble as Senators postpone hearing

Published: Tuesday, April 24, 2018 @ 11:03 AM

President Donald Trump’s decision to elevate the White House physician to lead the Veterans Administration was in peril on Tuesday, as top Senators in both parties announced that a confirmation hearing set this week for Rear Admiral Ronny Jackson would be ‘postponed until further notice,’ as the Senate requested all documents on “allegations or incidents” involving Jackson since 2006.

“We take very seriously our constitutional duty to thoroughly and carefully vet each nominee sent to the Senate for confirmation,” said Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-GA), the Chairman of the Senate Veterans Committee, and Sen. John Tester (D-MT), the top Democrat on that panel.

“We will continue looking into these serious allegations and have requested additional information from the White House to enable the committee to conduct a full review,” the two said in a joint statement.

The move came amid reports from various news organizations that raised questions about Jackson’s stewardship of the White House Physician’s Office.

The delay of the hearing was a major setback for the White House, again raising questions about vetting operations for nominees in the Trump Administration.

Jackson was already facing questions about whether he was the right person to manage the sprawling VA, which has been beset by a series of troubles in recent years.

President Trump fired his first VA chief, David Shulkin, in late March.

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Pompeo nomination clears hurdle after another late GOP switch

Published: Monday, April 23, 2018 @ 10:13 PM

For the second time in a week, late decisions by a pair of GOP Senators provided the margin of victory for a nominee of President Donald Trump, as after fears of a rare confirmation rebuke, Republicans on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Monday got in line behind the nomination of Mike Pompeo to be Secretary of State, setting up a vote later this week for his confirmation in the full Senate.

The key votes were delivered by Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) – who last week made a late switch to help salvage the nomination of Mr. Trump’s choice to run NASA – and by Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), who had talked for weeks that he would never vote to shift the CIA Director over to the post of Secretary of State.

But after a late lobbying effort by President Trump, Paul stuck with the White House on Pompeo.

“I have changed my mind,” Paul said at a meeting of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Back in March when the President fired Rex Tillerson from the Secretary of State’s job, Paul had made clear he was not going to vote for Pompeo, worried the CIA chief was too set on excessively using U.S. military force around the world.

Labeling Pompeo a “neocon,” Paul had said at the time that he would not vote for the CIA chief, worried that Pompeo was too much like the Republican Party that strongly backed with war in Iraq on Saddam Hussein.

“I simply cannot support Pompeo’s nomination to be our chief diplomat,” the Kentucky Republican made clear.

But after talks with Pompeo and the President, Paul gave in.

The late changes saved the GOP from an embarrassing foreign policy setback for the President – at a time when he is hosting the French President, and will later in the week receive the German Chancellor.

“He is extremely qualified for the position,” the President’s Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders argued for Pompeo, as she joined GOP Senators in reminding Democrats of the bipartisan votes for past Secretaries of State.

“John Kerry was confirmed 94-3. Hillary Clinton was confirmed 94-2. Condoleezza Rice was confirmed 85-13. Colin Powell was confirmed unanimously by voice vote,” Sanders told reporters.

The turn of events came hours after the President had blasted Democrats for delaying many of his nominees, by stretching out debate time on the Senate floor, leaving little time for work on legislation.

While the President accurately nicked the Democrats for slow-walking many nominations on the Senate floor, certain high-profile choices like Pompeo, Jim Bridenstine for NASA, and Ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell have been held up in the Senate not because of Democrats – but because of a lack of unity among Republicans.

For example, Grenell’s nomination was sent to the Senate floor back on January 18. While Democrats did object to action in March, there has been no effort by Senate Republicans to hold a vote – which likely means there aren’t fifty votes for his nomination.

When Monday began, that was in question for Pompeo as well, but the support of Paul, Flake, and a handful of Democrats, means the President will get his Secretary of State.

“The President deserves to have a Secretary of State that agrees with him or her, in general, on a foreign policy direction,” said Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), as he argued for Pompeo’s approval.

There was a bit of irony, as Rubio last week had been one of the holdouts on the President choice to run NASA – a reminder, that with a 51-49 advantage in the Senate, and the absence of Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), Republicans can’t afford to lose more than one vote on anything in the U.S. Senate.

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Jim Bridenstine sworn in as new Administrator of NASA

Published: Monday, April 23, 2018 @ 3:12 PM

Ending almost fourteen months of temporary leadership at NASA, Republican Congressman Jim Bridenstine of Oklahoma was sworn in Monday afternoon as the new leader of the space agency, as Trump Administration officials vow that Bridenstine will help revive manned space exploration efforts by the United States.

After taking the oath – with his wife and three children at his side – Bridenstine told NASA employees that he was committed to seeing that the U.S. remains the world’s leader in space.

“I will do my best to serve our storied agency to the utmost of my abilities, as we reach for new heights, as we reveal the unknown for the benefit for human kind,” Bridenstine said.

“NASA represents what is best about the United States of America,” Bridenstine added.

“We lead, we discover, we pioneer and we inspire. I look forward to our journey together.”

“It’s an important moment in the life of this agency,” said Vice President Mike Pence, who trekked over to NASA Headquarters for the swearing-in, again saying that President Trump is strongly behind a forward-looking NASA.

“We will send American astronauts back to the moon,” Pence said,’ vowing that the Trump Administration will lay the groundwork for travels to Mars.

“And NASA will lead the way,” the Vice President said to applause.

Bridenstine’s nomination was bitterly opposed by many Democrats in the Congress, who bristled at his conservative political views, and questioned his lack of space expertise, which also gave a handful of GOP Senators second thoughts.

But after months of delay, the White House was able to convince Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) to vote for Bridenstine, pushing him over the top to a bare majority confirmation vote of 50-49 last week.

Bridenstine inherits an agency which just saw a big boost in its budget courtesy of a recent spending deal in the Congress, as NASA for the first time now has a yearly budget of over $20 billion.

“He will be an excellent leader,” said Rep. Ted Cruz (R-TX), who was one of a handful of lawmakers there for the ceremony.

After the swearing-in and Bridenstine’s remarks, NASA then checked in by video relay with several astronauts aboard the International Space Station.

“I thank you for being part of the vanguard in space,” said the Vice President.

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