Omarosa Manigault-Newman, a former aide to President Donald Trump, spoke to about 150 students and faculty in Annenberg Hall on Thursday.
During the talk, Manigault-Newman told stories about her time working in the White House, her thoughts on race relations within the administration, and her former career in broadcast journalism. She formerly worked as the communications director in the Office of Public Liaison during the Trump Administration.
Manigault-Newman said she comes to college campuses because she feels young people have the power to guide the future of politics.
“I think it’s important to help young people realize how important they are in the political process and how much we need them,” Manigault-Newman said in an interview with The Temple News. “They are in the driver’s seat. If they turn out to the midterm elections because there’s something they don’t like about Trump, they can get Democrats in and impeach Trump. That’s the power they have.”
Manigault-Newman was fired from the Trump Administration in December 2017. After leaving the administration, she released several audio tapes, which she said she took while in meetings at the White House and wrote a tell-all book about Trump and her time working there, “Unhinged.” She spoke about several topics she touches on in the book, like power dynamics and racism.
Manigault-Newman said being put in a position of power changed Trump into the president he is today.
“He was a little different back then,” she said during the event. “He put together full sentences, he was coherent, and he was engaging. ‘The Donald’ I knew would never separate children from their parents at the border. He would never implement a Muslim ban.”
“The absolute most addicting drug in the world is power,” she added. “When he got power, it went straight to his head. I watched it as it was happening in slow motion.”
Manigault-Newman has faced stark criticism from the media for staying in the administration until she was fired.
One faculty member, media studies and production professor Kristine Weatherston, briefly protested, holding up a sign that read “COMPLICIT.” Manigault-Newman paused her remarks, and silently acknowledged the sign.
Although she has now distanced herself from Trump’s administration, Manigault-Newman said she did not resign when she first began to disagree with him because she felt representing minorities in the White House was important.
“I was the only African-American at the table,” Manigault-Newman said to the audience. “There’s a saying ‘if you’re not at the table, you’re on the menu.’”
Manigault-Newman said though she no longer works in the White House, she stays in contact with a few anonymous officials. She claimed she was part of the “resistance” that was revealed in the New York Times anonymous op-ed.
Students were given about a half hour to ask questions, after Manigault-Newman spoke. Some asked for advice for minorities entering the workforce, while others asked about Trump’s active Twitter page.
Bryan Monroe, a professor of journalism, knows Manigault-Newman because she is a family friend. As a favor for helping her edit “Unhinged,” he said, she agreed to speak at Temple.
“I think it’s important for the School of Media and Communication to engage newsmakers, and there are only a handful of bigger newsmakers in the country right now than her,” Monroe said. “I think the questions were fabulous and I am just so happy we were able to bring her here.”
Emily Simonitis, a freshman undecided student, said she went to see the former Trump aide because she considers herself a “political junkie” and has been following news about Manigault-Newman’s audio tapes.
“I love the way she talked about having the ‘receipts’ for her claims [in the tapes],” Simonitis said. “I don’t think her recordings are unethical. I think she’s doing a service to the American people by showing us what goes on inside.”
Karen Turner, an associate professor of journalism, said students did not ask the right questions.
“When you have the opportunity to ask tough questions, do so,” Turner said. “I would have liked to ask what she thinks about the Kavanaugh appointments.”
Manigault-Newman said in a one-on-one interview with the Temple News that she felt Christine Blasey Ford’s testimony at the Kavanaugh hearings was “powerful.”
The conversation with Manigault-Newman was part of Klein College’s “speaker series,” which aims to engage students with newsmakers and media professionals. Charles Barkley will be the next speaker on Oct. 5 in Annenberg Hall.