An angry spat at the 2017 National Association of Black Journalists Convention in New Orleans, Louisiana, on Friday led to the dissolution of a panel when White House aide Omarosa Manigault declined to answer any questions about the Trump administration.
Broadcast journalist Ed Gordon, who moderated the panel, stepped in to salvage the situation when a heated discussion began over the African-American community and police brutality. However, his discussion with Manigault, one of the few African-Americans holding a senior position in the Trump administration, turned into a verbal spar when she was questioned about the president's stance on the issues, reports said. The panel was titled, “Black and Blue: Raising Our Sons, Protecting Our Communities.”
Manigault, the director of communications for the White House's Office of Public Liaison, refused to answer questions about her role as an African American in the White House. And she ended up receiving of jeers and boos from the crowd.
Before she became a part of the Trump administration this year, Manigault had worked at the former Vice President Al Gore's office during the Clinton administration as a scheduling correspondent.
Manigault first gained fame in 2004 as a contestant on the American version of the show, “The Apprentice,” which was presented by Trump at that time. She then returned for the sequel of the series “Celebrity Apprentice,” and has appeared in several television shows since then.
During the Republican National Convention in July 2016, Manigault announced she was given the position of Director of African-American Outreach for Donald Trump's presidential campaign.
She has held no reservations about being a vocal Trump supporter. “Every critic, every detractor, will have to bow down to President Trump. It’s everyone who’s ever doubted Donald, who ever disagreed, who ever challenged him. It is the ultimate revenge to become the most powerful man in the universe," she said in an interview with Frontline in 2016. She has even called herself a “Trumplican.”
After Manigault joined Trump's White House staff, reports said she would be focusing on public engagement. Her specific title was made clear later as the "Assistant to the President and Director of Communications for the Office of Public Liaison."
Her personal life was marred by tragedies. She was just seven when her father was murdered; while her brother, Jack, was later killed in a shooting incident.
On Friday, when Manigault was asked in the panel about her thoughts on Trump’s remarks on police brutality, she simply replied, “No. Next question.” Trump had earlier said police officers should not be "nice" to people when they were detaining.
“I’m not going to stand here and defend everything about Donald Trump,” she said.
She also argued Trump's comments were “misinterpreted,” and police brutality was one of the main issues for the administration. “It’s on the front burner because I’m pushing the issue and raising the issue,” Manigault said to a booing audience. Some people in the audience stood with their backs to Manigault in protest as she continued to spar with the panel members. The panel was dissolved as she walked off the stage midway.