In the wake of Thursday's release of another recording secretly made by former Trump aide Omarosa Manigault Newman, the New York Times reports that White House staff are seriously "rattled" by the idea that a larger stockpile—perhaps hundreds of tapes worth of material—may be forthcoming.
Ahead of the release of her new book, Manigault Newman has released several recordings so far and said Thursday she would release more in order to blow the whistle on the president and his administration or in order to protect herself from retaliation. In an interview with MSNBC on Thursday, she declared, "Believe me, my tapes are much better than theirs."
Subsequently, the Times reported how '[t]he tapes of Ms. Manigault Newman's private conversations with Mr. Trump and other officials connected to him have rattled the White House in a way that few things other than the special counsel investigation into possible campaign collusion with Russia have. Mr. Trump’s aides have been concerned that they will make appearances on other tapes, of which Ms. Manigault Newman is believed to have as many as 200."
Omarosa warns President Trump and his team:
"I'm going to go toe-to-toe with him, everything he throws at me -- believe me, my tapes are much better than theirs ... I'll do what I have to do to protect myself.” https://t.co/Uce3y0Wad4 pic.twitter.com/xcWnsi3ks5
— MSNBC (@MSNBC) August 16, 2018
But just how many tapes are there? It's a very reasonable question. Based on what she's released so far—recordings reaching back as far as the 2016 campaign up and right through her White House firing (which she taped from inside the Situation Room)—it appears like she had a healthy and strategic habit of this practice.
My single favorite part about the Omarosa tapes is that no one, not a single soul at the White House, knows how many tapes there are.
They are scared shitless, and I love it.
— Denizcan Grimes (@MrFilmkritik) August 16, 2018
Earlier this week, even as predictable (and well earned) debates about her credibility swirled, Omarosa's answer to a question about the actual number of tapes she had was this: "I have plenty."
As CNN's Chris Cilliza wrote in a column late Thursday:
The problem for the White House is the dread of not knowing. The fact that Omarosa taped any conversations clearly caught top White House aides by surprise. Now, she has them all on edge—wracking their brains for whether they ever said anything to her that could get them fired. That on-pins-and-needles feeling isn't conducive to getting anything productive done. And it's hard to imagine that veil lifting until we know—or at least we believe—that Omarosa has dropped all of her best audio nuggets.
When will that be? The only person who knows for sure is, well, Omarosa. And that has to be terrifying for the Trump White House.
In the end, what may be more important about the role the attention-seeking Reality TV star ultimately plays in U.S. political history could have as much—or more—to do with what she has told Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigators as it does with the number or contents of the recordings she made. As national security analysts and freelance journalist Marcy Journalist tweeted this week:
Two separate issues: Is Omarosa giving Trump a plate full of his own medicine and is that glorious to see? Yup.
DId Omarosa provide potentially valuable testimony to Mueller and if so is she right to remain silent about it so as to protect the investigation? Yup.
— emptywheel (@emptywheel) August 16, 2018