Trump Campaign Says It Has Filed Case Against Omarosa Manigault Newman

WASHINGTON — President Trump’s campaign said on Tuesday that it had filed an arbitration case against Omarosa Manigault Newman, the former campaign aide and West Wing official whose tell-all book has roiled the White House.

A campaign official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said the claim was filed in New York City for breach of a confidentiality agreement Ms. Manigault Newman had signed with the Trump campaign in 2016. The official did not immediately respond to questions about which court the claim was filed in.

But the filing was a major escalation by Mr. Trump against Ms. Manigault Newman, whose book, “Unhinged,” is the first account by a former White House aide to make embarrassing allegations about the president and his team. Ms. Manigault Newman describes him as a racist and misogynist whose mental health is in decline. She also takes aim at his daughter, Ivanka, and son-in-law, Jared Kushner, who was a key intermediary in bringing her into the White House.

Legal experts have said the nondisclosure agreements for the campaign and the White House are most likely not legally enforceable. But people close to the president said he hoped to send a warning shot that anyone else who attempts a tell-all could face legal fees, among other headaches.

Mr. Trump, who values the control of information and seeks to shape his image at all times, had aides on the campaign sign nondisclosure agreements, the same type of measure he has used for employees at his private real-estate company for decades. The first section of the nondisclosure agreement says no confidential information is to be released during the term of service or anytime “thereafter.”

Ms. Manigault Newman, who was the communications director for the Office of Public Liaison in the White House until being fired in December, has released tapes over several days that revealed her private conversations with Mr. Trump and other officials connected to him. That has stoked interest in the book and also called into question denials from Mr. Trump’s team. Most of her news media appearances have been on NBC, the network that vaulted her to prominence on “The Apprentice” with Mr. Trump more than a decade ago.

On Monday night, Katrina Pierson, a spokeswoman for the Trump campaign, denied on Fox News that the president had used the N-word, as Ms. Manigault Newman claims in the book. But on Tuesday, Ms. Manigault Newman provided an audio recording to CBS that appeared to reveal Ms. Pierson saying during the campaign that she believed Mr. Trump had used the slur, and that he was embarrassed for having done so.

At the White House briefing on Tuesday, the press secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, said she could not guarantee that a tape would never emerge with Mr. Trump using the slur. Ms. Manigault Newman claims such a tape exists from their days on “The Apprentice.”

Until excerpts from the book began leaking out on Friday, the White House had gotten Mr. Trump to agree to a plan to ignore it, in the hopes of depriving it of oxygen. That plan called for the opposite of what Mr. Trump did when Michael Wolff published “Fire and Fury,” a story that had mostly been told in real-time news media accounts, but which the president stoked interest in by tweeting about it and trying to block its release.

But in the end, the plan collapsed: By Friday afternoon, the White House issued a statement responding to the book. On Saturday, Mr. Trump told reporters that Ms. Manigault Newman was a “lowlife.” And on Monday and Tuesday, Mr. Trump unleashed a Twitter tirade against her.

On Monday, the campaign had not planned to engage her in legal action, according to a person familiar with the discussions. But by Tuesday, Mr. Trump wanted to press ahead.

Ms. Manigault Newman, based on the volume of recordings, spent much of her time in the White House preparing to monetize it afterward, current West Wing officials said.

People in the White House were scared of her, several current and former officials said. Her role with the Office of Public Liaison was created specifically for her. Trump aides had trouble filling the main job of running that office because several applicants did not want to work with her, officials said.

She often showed up at meetings where she had little role to play, current and former officials said. When he was chief of staff, Reince Priebus had spent time trying to keep her from showing up at meetings.

Among her interlocutors was Mr. Kushner, who has focused on Mr. Trump’s tiny percentage of the African-American vote and who saw value in having a black woman play a prominent role in the White House.

Ms. Manigault Newman was elevated to fame through her association with Mr. Trump, a fact she acknowledges in her book. She has said that she was part of a “cult” that surrounded Mr. Trump, and that she came to understand over many years that he harbored bigoted views.

Mr. Trump, for his part, told associates for years that Ms. Manigault Newman was conniving, a quality he appeared to admire before she began using his own tactics against him.

A version of this article appears in print on , on Page A12 of the New York edition with the headline: Trump Campaign Says It Has Filed a Case Against a Tell-All’s Author. Order Reprints | Today’s Paper | Subscribe

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