The Trump campaign has suggested that Omarosa Manigault Newman, a former White House aide, pay for an ad campaign costing nearly $1 million as a “corrective” remedy for her critical comments about President Trump in her 2018 book and in subsequent interviews.
The recommendation was made in a document filed by the Trump campaign from an expert witness last week as part of an ongoing arbitration case; The Times reviewed the document.
The witness, Eric W. Rose, a crisis management expert, detailed a lengthy advertising proposal across several platforms that would cost just over $846,000. He did not suggest a time frame by which the ad campaign would need to take place. But the proposal mentions several times the impressions Ms. Manigault Newman’s comments could have left with “voters,” and was filed a few weeks before the election.
“It would be my recommendation that Ms. Manigault Newman pays for the corrective ads/corrective statements outlined above to counteract the long-term adverse effects of information that appeared as a result of Ms. Manigault Newman violating her confidentially agreement,” Mr. Rose wrote. He concluded: “If corrective ads are not placed, voters may continue to hold beliefs about the president as a result of Ms. Manigault Newman’s statements.”
Ms. Manigault Newman’s lawyer, John Phillips, said that the Trump campaign’s submission of Mr. Rose’s document was the height of “weaponized litigation.”
“Friday, we found out their bullets are commercials they want Omarosa to go do,” he said, referring to the report’s suggestion that only an ad campaign could “remedy” what had been said. “This isn’t free speech. It’s speech with a gun to your head.”
President Trump’s lawyers filed an arbitration case against Ms. Manigault Newman after she published a tell-all book, “Unhinged,” in August 2018, arguing she violated a nondisclosure agreement she had signed when the Trump campaign hired her in 2016. In her book she described Mr. Trump as a racist and misogynist who had made disparaging comments about Black people and women over the years.
Keep up with Election 2020
Ms. Manigault Newman had previously worked with Mr. Trump when she appeared on several seasons of his “Apprentice” reality shows.
Mr. Phillips said the document from Mr. Rose was filed after Ms. Manigault Newman’s side in the arbitration fight had sought an explanation for how they could prove “damages” were owed. Mr. Phillips said that the campaign couldn’t justify it by claiming a loss of donations, since it has raised more than $1 billion.
Charles Harder, a lawyer for Mr. Trump who has been handling the arbitration case for the campaign, did not respond to an email seeking comment. Mr. Rose also did not respond to an email.
Jenna Ellis, a legal adviser to the Trump campaign, said Mr. Rose’s document did not constitute a demand for a contribution to the Trump campaign. Rather, she said, “the report evidences the extent of damages suffered by the Trump campaign as a direct result of Ms. Manigault Newman’s breach of her unambiguous contractual obligations.”
Yet campaign finance experts said that if Ms. Manigault Newman were to finance an advertising campaign, it would effectively represent a campaign contribution.
Having her pay for an ad campaign “in my opinion would be an illegally large in-kind contribution to the Trump campaign,” said Paul S. Ryan, the vice president for policy and litigation at the good-government group Common Cause.
Even if she were just to appear in an ad, without funding it, there would be a value to Ms. Manigault Newman’s time that would almost certainly exceed the $2,800 federal contribution limit, Mr. Ryan said.
Brendan Fischer, of the Campaign Legal Center, said, “I can’t believe that the Trump campaign’s attorneys would have allowed something like that to have been put in writing.”
He added, “If Omarosa were to go through with it, then both she and the Trump campaign would be violating campaign finance laws.”
Oct. 13, 2020, 2:08 p.m. ET
In the campaign’s filing, Mr. Rose laid out his logic for his suggested campaign.
“The statements made by Ms. Manigault Newman are likely playing a role in creating or reinforcing beliefs in the mind of voters,” Mr. Rose wrote in the report. “Because of content retention, the internet provides a platform for an eternal retrieval of the statements made by Ms. Manigault Newman.”
He added that her statements were “given heightened veracity because of her relationship with the president” and asserted that “corrective remedies are justified.”
Mr. Rose’s report states that its “objective” is to “provide a paid media recommendation with the goal of reaching audiences reached by negative statements disseminated by Ms. Manigault Newman.”
It listed its “targeted audiences” in 15 “select states” that all happen to be electoral battle grounds, including Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.
“Media would be flighted across all channels/publishers,” Mr. Rose wrote. “Timing is to be determined.”
He added, “A person who abides by confidentiality agreements when writing a book and subsequently making media appearances to promote the book would never be in a position to be forced to run corrective advertising. It is my opinion that the only effective remedy would be a corrective advertising campaign that would be financed by Ms. Manigault Newman.”
The arbitration case has been going on since 2018, when Ms. Manigault Newman departed the White House on acrimonious terms. She later revealed that she had secretly taped specific conversations with top White House officials, including the White House chief of staff at the time, John F. Kelly.
She also taped Lara Trump, the president’s daughter-in-law, offering her a five-figure monthly sinecure from the campaign, which Ms. Manigault Newman said was being done in order to keep her from speaking out.
In a hearing earlier this year in the arbitration case, Ms. Manigault Newman made clear that she felt she had to tape other officials — something a number of people around Mr. Trump have done since then — because stories were being told about her by White House officials that she said weren’t true.
“If I did not have this recording,” she said, according to a transcript of the hearing, “people would still believe the false, incredible story that I was running around the White House. The false story that was told by a reporter, and repeated by this network and other reporters, that I tried to charge the residence of the White House. And it’s a lie.”
She added that if she didn’t have the record, “people would still think that I was trying to set off alarms. So yes, I had to protect myself, and I have no regret about it.”