WASHINGTON — Omarosa Manigault-Newman is unlikely to face prosecution for having secretly recorded White House Chief of Staff Gen. John Kelly in a secure area of the White House, according to a former federal prosecutor and a legal analyst.
“The likelihood of prosecution here is low. Both federal and District of Columbia law permit the surreptitious recording of conversations — telephonic or otherwise — if the recording is made by someone party to the communication,” national security attorney Sean M. Bigley said.
Bigley added: “In order to seek criminal charges the government would likely have to demonstrate that Ms. Manigault Newman actually recorded classified information — not just that she recorded inside a classified space.”
Former federal prosecutor Steven H. Levin said Manigault Newman “cannot be charged.”
Levin said irrespective of legal culpability, she “may have significant trouble obtaining a security clearance — ever.”
In a TV interview last week, Manigault Newman played the tape of a December conversation she had had with Kelly.
The conversation features Kelly informing Manigault Newman that her employment at the White House had ended. Kelly cited “serious integrity violations” as the reason for Manigault Newman’s dismissal but did not provide specifics.
The conversation took place in the White House Situation room. The Situation Room is often used for classified briefings and the use of personal electronic devices is generally prohibited.
Manigault Newman released a recording of a personal call from President Donald Trump that took place a few days after the Kelly meeting. The conversation features Trump expressing surprise and disappointment at the news of her dismissal.
In her newly released book, Unhinged, Manigault-Newman alleges the existence of a tape in which Trump used “the N-word” during the filming of his reality show, “The Apprentice.” Trump has denied using the slur and has restored to attacking her credibility on Twitter.
White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders told reporters Tuesday that she cannot guarantee Trump did not use the slur that is alleged to be on tape.
Bigley is a managing partner at Bigley Ranish LLP and a former Homeland Security attorney in the George W. Bush administration who previously worked as an investigator in the Office of Personnel Management.
Levin is a partner at Levin & Curlett LLC. He served 10 years as an Assistant United States Attorney in the District of Maryland. Levin served under then-U.S. Attorney and now-Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.