The Justice Department is suing former White House staffer Omarosa Manigault Newman for failing to file a financial disclosure report after she was fired in late 2017.
In a civil complaint filed Tuesday in Washington federal court, Justice Department attorneys said that Newman, the former reality star and longtime associate of President Donald Trump, had been told about the form before she left her position, and ignored multiple email requests for it in the weeks after her departure.
Newman declined to comment about the lawsuit, according to her attorney, John Phillips.
In a statement, Phillips said the White House had chosen “to abuse process and use the Department of Justice to carry out retaliation.”
“The lawsuit alleges that Omarosa Manigault Newman ‘knowingly and willfully’ failed to file a report. This is untrue,” he said in a statement.
Phillips alleged the records Newman would need in order to file a report were seized by the White House counsel’s office when she was fired. The White House refused to acknowledge the documents existed until May 10, he said.. He said the documents are still being withheld by the White House, and the Department of Justice released the complaint before Newman had been served in the lawsuit.
“Omarosa Manigault Newman cannot even get a straight answer about the amount of materials wrongfully possessed,” Phillips said. “This is premature, retaliatory and yet another attempt to silence a dissenting voice.”
Newman served as director of communications in the Office of Public Liaison at the White House for about a year before she was forced out by then-chief of staff John Kelly.
In the lawsuit, a routine step by the Justice Department enabled by ethics law, Justice Department attorneys ask the court to require Newman to file the report and fine her up to $50,000. Newman will still have the option to complete the form and avoid litigation, per Justice Department protocol.
Newman entered the White House as one of Trump’s longest-serving aides. After her firing, she published a tell-all memoir critical of the President that marked a stunning turn-around for someone who had worked alongside Trump for more than a decade.
In the days leading up to the publishing of her book, Trump lashed out in a flurry of tweets and called her a “dog,” “wacky,” “deranged,” a “crazed, crying lowlife,” “vicious” and “not smart.”
Newman provided audio to NBC, and in one clip Kelly can be heard saying Newman would be leaving the White House because of “significant integrity issues.”
After Newman released the recordings, a change was made to the West Wing’s phone policy surrounding the Situation Room.
This story has been updated.