The U.S. Justice Department is suing former White House aide Omarosa Manigault Newman for allegedly failing to file required financial disclosure documents after she was fired.
In a complaint filed Tuesday in federal court, the Trump administration alleged that the onetime “Apprentice” star “knowingly and willfully” failed to file the public financial disclosures “after her employment terminated with the Executive Office of the President.”
Manigault Newman served as the communications director for the White House Office of Public Liaison before she was fired in December 2017 by John Kelly, President Donald Trump’s chief of staff at the time.
Kelly told Manigault Newman after the firing that she had to file a financial disclosure form, according to the complaint. The complaint said she was reminded several more times between January and March 2018.
The complaint accuses Manigault Newman of violating the 1978 Ethics in Government Act (EIGA), an offense punishable by a fine of up to $50,000. Federal law requires executive branch employees whose “basic pay is equal to or greater than 120 percent of the minimum rate of basic pay” to file public financial disclosure reports within 30 days of leaving their post, and it allows the U.S. attorney general to bring litigation against anyone under that umbrella who knowingly doesn’t do so. The Justice Department alleges it resolves most claims under the EIGA without going to litigation.
A search of court records turned up a handful of similar cases against former federal employees. In the cases HuffPost reviewed, unlike in Manigault Newman’s case, the former employees had been notified by certified mail before a lawsuit was filed. One 2014 case ended in a settlement that required the defendant to pay civil penalties of $4,000, while another 2014 case involving a former employee of the House of Representatives resulted in a $25,000 default judgment.
Once a fierce defender of Trump, Manigault Newman is now considered a thorn in the president’s side and frequently criticizes him. The former aide wrote a tell-all book last year called “Unhinged,” which told of her experience in the White House through detailed records, including audio recordings.
She also filed a motion earlier this year to join a former Trump campaign staffer’s lawsuit accusing the campaign of paying female employees less than their male counterparts.
The president has since worked to tear down Manigault Newman with insulting tweets, calling her “wacky,” “vicious,” “deranged” and a “dog.”
A statement from Manigault Newman’s lawyer on Tuesday called the complaint “premature” and said the allegation that his client knowingly failed to file the disclosures is false.
“Said report is designed to disclose ‘the source, date, and amount of honoraria of over $200.’ Omarosa Manigault Newman regularly kept records of this nature in her office at the White House. In order to provide a report, [she] has repeatedly requested these and other documents which The White House and its Counsel’s Office seized at her termination,” attorney John Phillips wrote in his statement.
“We requested an extension until her documents could be returned,” he continued. “However, despite my client’s best efforts, the Department of Justice or the White House continues to withhold these documents, which are needed to complete the disclosure.”
Read the Justice Department’s complaint below: