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There's a growing genre of Trump-era books that exist on the line between incredible and unbelievable. The newest entry is "Unhinged" by Omarosa Manigault-Newman. She went from breakout star of the first season of "The Apprentice" to senior White House aide. Now she is making explosive claims about her former friend and boss President Trump. But as NPR's Tamara Keith reports, a key claim in the book may be thrown into doubt by an interview the author did this morning with NPR.
TAMARA KEITH, BYLINE: Manigault-Newman sat down with NPR's Rachel Martin for an interview that was supposed to air Monday on Morning Edition. But an exchange from that interview is both newsworthy and potentially damaging to a central part of the narrative Manigault-Newman weaves in her book. "Unhinged" starts and ends with Manigault-Newman's hunt for what she calls the N-word tape. On the eve of the election, rumors swirled that there were recordings from the set of "The Apprentice" where Donald Trump used the racial slur. A producer from "The Apprentice" named Bill Pruitt said in an interview that the audio existed, though to this day it hasn't surfaced.
In the book, Manigault-Newman claims that she was forced to resign because she had gotten close to finding the tape. And the book ends with this - a call she made months after leaving the White House to someone who worked on "The Apprentice." Here she is reading the key sentence.
OMAROSA MANIGAULT-NEWMAN: (Reading) On this phone conversation, I was told exactly what Donald Trump said. Yes, the N-word and others in a classic Trump-goes-nuclear rant.
KEITH: This seems pretty clear. She didn't hear the tape but was told what was on it. But that's not what she said in her interview with Morning Edition.
MANIGAULT-NEWMAN: And once I heard it...
RACHEL MARTIN, BYLINE: You heard - you have heard this tape?
MANIGAULT-NEWMAN: I heard this tape.
MARTIN: You heard the president of the United States...
MANIGAULT-NEWMAN: I heard the president of the United States use not only the N-word, but as Bill Pruitt described during that interview, other horrible things during the production of "The Apprentice."
MARTIN: You don't mention that in the book, that you've actually heard the tape. Is this new?
MANIGAULT-NEWMAN: Oh, no, it's mentioned in the book.
KEITH: But what Manigault-Newman points to is that section she just read about the phone call. In the interview, Rachel Martin presses her to clear up the discrepancy.
MARTIN: Forgive me, though. That sounds like you just heard his account of the tape. Did you actually hear the tape?
MANIGAULT-NEWMAN: I did. Did you miss this whole - girl, did you read my book?
KEITH: She did read the book. So did I. It's not there. In the book, Manigault-Newman makes many claims about President Trump and others in the White House that would be shocking if true - that he has dementia, that he referred to people of color as those people, that he wanted to be sworn in on a copy of his book "The Art Of The Deal" rather than the Bible. There's a lot.
White House press secretary Sarah Sanders put out a statement that says in part, quote, "this book is riddled with lies and false accusations. It's sad that a disgruntled former White House employee is trying to profit off these false attacks and, even worse, that the media would now give her a platform after not taking her seriously when she had only positive things to say about the president during her time in the administration," unquote. Those days are clearly over.
MANIGAULT-NEWMAN: Donald J. Trump is not only a racist but a misogynist and a bigot.
KEITH: Manigault-Newman told NPR it was hard to see those things when she was part of Trump's orbit.
MANIGAULT-NEWMAN: But the things that I heard come out of this man's mouth on the tape that I describe in this book - it completely shattered my belief in him being a decent person.
KEITH: But a big question now hangs over it all. Did she actually hear the tape as she claims now, or did she simply hear a description of it as she says in her book "Unhinged"? Tamara Keith, NPR News.
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