By Katelyn Polantz, CNN Reporter, Crime and Justice
A federal judge has ruled against former Trump administration official Omarosa Manigault Newman and ordered her to pay more than $60,000, in a lawsuit the Justice Department brought against her after then-President Donald Trump fired his former apprentice.
The case found that Manigault Newman hadn’t complied with federal ethics requirements that public officials file financial disclosures when they leave a government job.
Though it revolved around a compliance matter, over the last few years, Manigault Newman’s departure and litigation spun into a juicy drama between the powers of the Trump White House and a combatant, well-known personality once in its fold.
She had been director of communications for the Office of Public Liaison in Trump’s White House. But Trump fired her in December 2017, less than a year after he took office as president. (Trump had fired her previously, on the first season of “The Apprentice.”)
Since then, Manigault Newman has been publicly critical of Trump, calling him a racist, releasing tapes she recorded in his administration and writing a book about him titled “Unhinged.”
On Twitter on Tuesday, following the ruling, Manigault Newman again criticized Trump.
“The question remains… are there two systems of justice in this country. One that allows those who violate the Hatch Act and Emoluments Clause a slap on wrist and the other that orders an unprecedented fine (highest in history) for an alleged unintentional failing to file a form?” she wrote.
After Manigault Newman left the White House, administration attorneys reminded her repeatedly that she hadn’t filed her final financial disclosure. Manigault Newman did not make the filings.
She claimed, according to the court filings, that the White House had her last day wrong, and she told the court that the Trump administration held hostage boxes of her belongings and other files that she needed.
Still, the judge, Richard Leon of the DC District Court, found Manigault-Newman liable for a $61,585 civil penalty and ordered her to pay the fee to the US Treasury within a month. That amount is the maximum $50,000 penalty for the violation, plus inflation.
“Manigault Newman willfully violated the [Ethics in Government Act],” Leon wrote in a 15-page opinion on Tuesday. The judge noted Manigault Newman was “well aware of her obligation” to make her final disclosures and had “received countless reminders.”
“This conduct establishes a willful violation,” the judge added.
Leon also decided Manigault Newman, one of the most well-known faces from Trump’s era as a reality TV honcho who has kept a public persona since her breakout 18 years ago, would have ample funds to make the payment.
She made a salary of $179,700 in her White House post and is a partial beneficiary of a million-dollar trust, the judge said.
Her attorney, John Phillips, told CNN on Tuesday that his client may appeal and criticized the Biden administration for continuing to pursue the case. “They played games with the system,” Phillips said, adding that now-Attorney General Merrick Garland “is supposed to be returning stability and reason back to government. This is the opposite of that.”
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