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Reliable Sources: Omarosa and Trump battle for each news cycle

A version of this article first appeared in the Reliable Sources newsletter. ...

Posted: Aug 17, 2018 12:27 PM
Updated: Aug 17, 2018 12:27 PM

A version of this article first appeared in the Reliable Sources newsletter. You can sign up for free right here.

"Donald Trump has met his match," Omarosa Manigault Newman said on MSNBC Thursday afternoon.

And just like THAT, she was back in the news.

One day after the White House yanked attention away from Omarosa's book "Unhinged" by revoking John Brennan's security clearance, Omarosa regained control of the news cycle by coming out with another tape, revealing part of her conversation with Lara Trump about a job on Trump's re-election campaign.

At one point on the tape, Lara Trump commented to Omarosa that it seemed "there are some things you've got in the back pocket to pull out." And Lara was right -- the recording device was evidently one of those things.

-- Of note: NBC/MSNBC remains Omarosa's network of choice. Presumably this is related to her package deal of interviews earlier this week. She played the newest tape on MSNBC at 1 p.m. Thursday, sparking all the news coverage...

-- Stephen Colbert's question on the "Late Show:" "Why is Lara Trump in charge of this?"

Trump trying to change the subject?

President Trump has been tweeting up a storm the past few days. Sometimes he just quotes Fox News segments, sometimes he promotes the economy, other times he brings up various controversies. One wonders if he's trying to divert attention away from the "Unhinged" book... but the Brennan decision was the only really significant attention-grabber of the week.

How many more tapes?

A dozen? A hundred? Two hundred? The New York Times included the two hundred number in a story on Thursday evening.

The tapes "have rattled the White House in a way that few things other than the special counsel investigation into possible campaign collusion with Russia have," Maggie Haberman and Ken Vogel reported. "Mr. Trump's aides have been concerned that they will make appearances on other tapes, of which Ms. Manigault Newman is believed to have as many as 200.."

Of course, there's a big caveat to all this. "Conventional wisdom would be that Omarosa leaked the best audio she had in the first few days" to boost book sales, Chris Cillizza noted.

The book is still #2 on Amazon

"Unhinged" has been holding steady at #2 on Amazon's list for the past two days. Most authors would love to be there, but I'm still a little surprised that Omarosa hasn't taken the #1 spot from the motivational book "Girl, Wash Your Face" by Rachel Hollis...

Publisher defends "Unhinged"

This back and forth is reminiscent of Macmillan's defense of "Fire and Fury" last January: Omarosa's publishing house, Simon & Schuster, apparently received a letter from legal pit bull Charles Harder, litigation counsel for the Trump campaign. The publisher's outside counsel Elizabeth McNamara replied on Thursday, and CNN's Kaitlan Collins obtained the response first.

According to McNamara, Harder threatened that S&S would be subject to "substantial monetary damages and punitive damages" for claims arising from the book. "My clients will not be intimidated by hollow legal threats and have proceeded with publication of the Book as schedule," McNamara wrote. "Should you pursue litigation against S&S, we are confident that documents related to the contents of the Book in the possession of President Trump, his family members, his businesses, the Trump Campaign, and his administration will prove particularly relevant to our defense."

"An obvious attempt to silence legitimate criticism"

Key graf from McNamara's response to Harder: "Your letter is nothing more than an obvious attempt to silence legitimate criticism of the president. Put simply, the book's purpose is to inform the public. Private contracts like the NDA may not be used to censor former or current government officials from speaking about non-classified information learned during the course of their public employment."

Back to the Brennan fallout...

-- Washington Post's latest: "Trump has told advisers that he is eager to strip more security clearances."

-- Rachel Maddow's take on Thursday night: "Trump isn't going after his critics, he's going after the witnesses."

-- "Revoke my security clearance, too, Mr. President." That op-ed by Retired Navy Admiral William H. McRaven is the most-read story on the WashPost

website right now, nine hours after it came out...

-- A dozen former senior intelligence officials issued a joint statement on Thursday night. They said "we have never before seen the approval or removal of security clearances used as a political tool, as was done in this case." They called it "an attempt to stifle free speech" and said it is "inappropriate and deeply regrettable."

Summing up the day:

The Washington Post's Greg Miller tweeted: "President's campaign chairman is waiting to find out if he's going to prison. Architect of bin Laden raid is daring president to take his clearances. Reality show contestant/WH employee has tape of $180K offer she got to stay quiet. Years of chaos in one day."

Read more of Thursday's Reliable Sources newsletter... And subscribe here to receive future editions in your inbox...

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