Donald Trump with Omarosa Manigault, then the Trump campaign’s director of African-American outreach, in September 2016Carlo Allegri/Reuters
Omarosa Manigault, the director of communications for the White House’s Office of Public Liaison, engaged in a contentious exchange Friday during an appearance at the National Association of Black Journalists’ convention in New Orleans.
Manigault, a controversial former “Apprentice”star, was invited to speak on a panel concerning police brutality alongside the mothers of Philando Castile and Alton Sterling, two men killed by police.
At one point during the panel, the moderator, BET’s Ed Gordon, played a recording of Trump appearing to advocate for police misconduct, telling officers to not be “too nice” to those they arrest.
When asked about the comments, which inflamed civil-rights activists and led to criticism from police departments around the country, Manigault refused to “defend every single word and decision” Trump makes.
“I’m not going to stand here and defend everything about Donald Trump,” Manigault said, according to BuzzFeed reporter Adrian Carrasquillo.
But Manigault reportedly said that it was wrong of Trump to joke about police roughing people up.
Manigault acknowledged being one of the only senior black officials in the White House and said that it’s her “responsibility” to bring stakeholders in the black community into policy discussions, Carrasquillo reported.
“Omarosa says issues of black community are brought up in admin because she is there,” Carrasquillo tweeted.
When asked how she is working with the Department of Justice on policing issues, Manigault responded, “Google me,” New York Times reporter Yamiche Alcindor tweeted. She also reportedly said, “I don’t work at the Justice Department — it’s not even part of my portfolio.”
Manigualt’s invitation to speak, which was made after two panel members pulled out unexpectedly, was highly controversial from the start.
“The majority there don’t want her involved. It’s heavy drama — even the moderator is refusing. Everyone sees it as extremely offensive,” an unnamed source told the New York Post.
During the panel, several activists in the audience stood and turned their backs to the stage in protest.
Audience members stand and turn their backs to the stage while Manigault is speaking.Yamiche Alcindor/Twitter
Manigult took offense at her reception, at one point saying, “Walking into a room where you get shut down does not open a line of communication so change can happen.”
A Howard University student, Maya King, tweeted a video of Manigault and Gordon on their feet arguing with each other on stage, adding that the two were “giving every single journalist in this room what they came for — drama.”
— maya king (@mayaaliah) August 11, 2017
“I’ll see y’all at the White House Christmas party in December,” Gordon reportedly said as Manigault walked out of the room.