While Omarosa has promised a “tell all” about her time as the only African-American woman in this White House, as a senior staff and assistant to the president, others are sharing their own stories about her days which include controversy, accusations and blocking.
Black Republicans accuse Omarosa of blocking
Large among her accusers are Black Republicans who claim Omarosa blocked them from jobs in order to maintain her own status as the top African-American in the White House.
“I was blocked personally. Essentially, my file was pulled and I wasn’t deemed pro-Trump enough,” says Eugene Craig. “The official excuse was that I wasn’t pro-Trump enough although I was the sitting chair of the Maryland Republican Party.”
Sources said because of President Trump’s need for loyalty, that attribute – loyalty – was among the top considerations for key White House positions. Craig admits that he was a “never Trumper all the way”, but that was during the campaign. Craig says he noticed that when the time came for consideration for jobs and the broad banner of Republicanism, White never-Trumpers were given consideration where African-Americans were not.
“The flood gates were opened, but Omarosa held all of us to a different standard. She had say over a lot of the Black resumes. I know for a fact from promises that she made us directly.”
Craig says a January conference call with the Republican National Committee and Trump transition team was held “specifically for African-American activists and party loyalists.” He said, “During the middle of the call, she came in and she made us these promises that this would be the most diverse administration in history. And she’ll help us with whatever we need and wherever we wanted to go into government and to shoot our resumes over to her and she gave us her official transition email. She said this administration has a goal of having 25% minority hiring. So she positioned herself as the end all be all for Black things; for Black people in the administration,” Craig said.
Ayshia Connors, a former deputy director of African-American engagement at the Republican National Committee, now a senior advisor to Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Pa.), agrees. She describes an initiative by The Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies and Insight America, an organization headed by former Republican Congressman J. C. Watts:
“There were hundreds, probably thousands of resumes of qualified individuals in the Black community that were ready and prepared to go into any administration no matter who won the election. And when President Trump got elected, all of those names were submitted and Omarosa literally trashed those names. Nobody got a call back. Nobody got an interview. Nobody was ever heard about again.
“People tried to go in. People were eager and willing to serve the President, willing to serve our country. But Omarosa, she didn’t want other Black Republicans there. She wanted to be the big shot. She wanted to be the only one. And so, everybody kind of just decided it wasn’t worth our times to keep dealing with it. And so, by February, people had just moved on from Omarosa and dealing with the White House and decided to start working with Congress and dealing some other policy matters.”
Connors added that Kay Coles James, former Virginia Secretary of Health and Human Resources under Virginia Republican Gov. George Allen and director for the United States Office of Personnel Management under President George W. Bush, received the same treatment.
In a recent interview, James, who was appointed Dec. 19 as the first African-American and first woman president of the conservative Heritage Foundation, was clear about why she did not go to work in the Trump White House.
“When Donald Trump said that he wanted to improve the urban areas and that he wanted to make the lives of minorities in this country better, I said, wow, if he wants to do that, I genuinely want to be a part of that and I was excited and hopeful the opportunity to come in,” she said. “But that opportunity never really afforded itself. I am told that I was blocked…I don’t have specifics about how that happened, but I was extremely disappointed that I didn’t have the opportunity to serve there.”
Doesn’t Play Well With Others
Connors said the clearest evidence that Omarosa was not going to work with other Black Republicans came in February when Omarosa was in charge of pulling together the Black History Month program for President Trump. And another event for Vice President Pence that was planned by Black Republicans to be held at West Point.
“During Black History Month, these credible Republicans such as Kay Coles James and J. C. Watts and Elroy Sailor, they tried to engage Omarosa,” Connors said. The West Pointe event “was actually the turning point for Black Republicans. We decided she was just too distracting too disruptive and we decided to focus our efforts elsewhere.”
Christopher Metzler, an active member of the Black GOP Coalition, who has long worked Republican policy and strategy, had one answer when asked why there were no long time Black Republicans hired as White House staff. “It’s very simple. Omarosa,” he said.
“Somebody like Kay [Coles James] who could serve as a whisperer in the President’s ear like a Condoleezza Rice; like a Valerie Jarrett, was never given that opportunity. There was a lot of back and forth pertaining to that. And Kay said, ‘Well, it is not going to serve the President well for me to try to cut through this thicket.’ And as a result of that, she did not push it any further.”
Metzler concluded, “All of these things were blocked by Omarosa. At the end of the day, Omarosa is first and foremost a Democrat. She is not a conservative. She is not a Republican. She never has been. She is simply an opportunist. And that’s where we ended up.”
On the record sources willing to speak in defense of Omarosa were difficult to find. But, high placed Republican sources say it is not possible that Omarosa could have made such powerful decisions without oversight in the White House – most likely the President himself. Other high Republican sources said James was offered positions, but Omarosa fought against any Black staff appointment that would be above her own.
Yet another rationale for why some Black Republicans seeking employment were rejected may have been because they left the Republican National Committee Headquarters in protest against treatment by then RNC Chairman Reince Priebus nearing the end of the presidential campaign. Priebus then became President Trump’s first chief of staff and was likely averse to hiring the same staffers who had left the RNC, one source said.
Black Republicans Versus Black Representation
Dr. Ron Daniels, president of the Institute of the Black World 21st Century (IBW) and a long-time associate of Omarosa’s Youngstown, Oh family, has had a unique view of Omarosa in the White House. He worked directly with her when she was a Democrat. He even named her a celebrity ambassador for IBW’s Haiti Support Project after she traveled with a group of journalists to document the level of disaster following the 2010 earthquake.
His view in the midst of her departure from the White House is two-fold.
First, as it pertains to those Black Republicans who felt that they earned a position due to their loyalty to the party, “diversity does not equal representation of the Black community,” he said. Citing pioneering Black Republicans such as Nixon’s Art Fletcher, known as “the father of affirmative action,” Daniels says modern day Black Republicans can hardly hold a candle to some of the Black Republicans who – instead of following the party line – stood for justice when it was needed most. “The brand of Republicanism that we have now is extremely out of step with the vast majority of Black people and the mainstream of Black aspirations.”
Second, Daniels now sees what he believes to have been Omarosa’s true agenda based on her most recent situation.
“I think Omarosa, for whatever reason, is somebody who had been on the liberal side. I think Omarosa saw an opportunity to advance her own interests and that is why she was blocking everybody else. She wanted to be the Queen bee,” Daniels said. “She wanted to be able to … block people. But the idea that if she had opened the flood gates of somehow having more Ben Carsons or more Clarence Thomases or people like that, [that would not have been a good thing either]. But I don’t think Omarosa was there advocating. It was really stunning to see her make that transformation.”
More than Black Republicans Rejected
American Urban Radio Network reporter April Ryan, a White House correspondent who
has covered four presidents, confirmed that now former Trump press secretary, Sean Spicer, told her that Omarosa had asked him to “stop calling on me” during press briefings. Had he adhered to that request, it could have blocked important information and coverage on behalf of millions of African-American listeners to AURN radio stations across the nation. Ryan says Omarosa also tried to get her fired by calling her boss at AURN.
Many of Omarosa’s previous friends and associates, who rejected Trumpism, say they were also rejected. Daniels says he was one of them.
“Omarosa is my home girl, (Youngstown, OH) so we forged a friendship,” he said. “All of that was positive. Then, all of a sudden Trump came along and I saw her in and around Trump and I became very nervous. So at one point, I just sort of, as an elder, a friend, I just sort of called her to say, ‘Be careful. You seem to be getting very close to Donald Trump and I don’t think…’
“And she just sort of went off on me, kind of like, ‘You don’t need to be telling me, nobody needs to be telling me what’s going on. I know what I’m doing. And somebody needs to be able to talk to him. And that was it. I just said bye because I did not want to see her become what she has now become in the Black community – a pariah in the Black community.”
NNPA’s Chavis More Optimistic
Ben Chavis, president/CEO of the National Newspaper Publishers Association, said he interviewed Omarosa last fall in her White House office, located in the Old Executive Office Building. At that time, shortly after the Congressional Black Caucus Annual Legislative Weekend, there was no indication that she would be leaving, Chavis said.
However, he speculated that, based on the content of the interview – which he said has not been published – she may have been pressing for diversity too much.
“She indicated broadly her determination to press diversity and inclusivity issues. She’s always maintained that posture,” Chavis said. “I think that’s probably one of the things that probably got her in trouble in the White House is that she probably was pressing for more diversity,” Chavis said.
In an off-the-record meeting with several hundred Black leaders, including Chavis, during the Trump transition last January, Omarosa said NNPA would get the first interview with President Trump, a promise she later denied despite multiple sources that confirmed the conversation.