President Trump is known for counter-punching. But his only comment on the potentially devastating claim by Omarosa Manigault Newman, the one-time White House staffer who was summarily fired by Chief of Staff Gen. John Kelly, centered around her firing, not her tapes.
Well, she does have tapes. And she's not afraid to use them. Now, in her book (which is filled with venom and fan fiction), and in public, Omarosa is claiming Trump uttered the "N-word" and she has it on tape. CNN has its own tape, where Trump's aides, during the campaign, questioned him on the possible existence of an "N-word" tape.
Lynne Patton, a Trump campaign aide and assistant to one of the President's sons, told fellow campaign officials on a call in October 2016 that she confronted Trump about the existence of the tape and that he denied it, according to a recording of the call publicly released Tuesday morning by Manigault Newman on CBS.
So we have Her word against His word, and neither of them are particularly trustworthy in their words. But it's not words, it's actions that send the message, and the Trump campaign has rung the bell that if a tape could exist, they're worried about it.
Everyone who works for Trump signs all kinds of non-disclosure agreements. Only the best, most air-tight, hermetically sealed NDAs. So tight that even a porn star can't slip through it.
A Trump campaign official said in a statement it filed a claim with the American Arbitration Association in New York City against Manigault Newman "for breach of her 2016 confidentiality agreement with the Trump Campaign."
All the catcalling and screaming about Trump being incompetent, or being a bad boss, or even an S.O.B., won't do a thing to harm him. But if Manigault Newman can actually produce a tape of the president uttering the most vile racist term in the U.S. today, the psychological, cultural, and political fallout cannot be estimated, or contained.
I think that tape, if it exists, may be Trump's undoing. Somehow, I've managed to quote Sonny Bunch twice in as many days, but his tweet wins the issue:
"Donald Trump getting taken down by Omarosa is the final act we need for this whole thing to be a perfect Greek tragedy." It would indeed be a tragedy. I never thought Trump was a racist. I can't imagine him using the "N-word" in any conversation, except possibly in air quotes--quoting someone else. Doing it anywhere that it could be taped is political suicide, and Trump is smarter than that.
But if the tape exists, it could be the end of the road. It would make Charlottesville look like Melania's hand-slap getting off Air Force One.
Normally I don't worry about such hyperbolic claims, since they are part and parcel of the Trump White House and its circus ring of inhabitants. But when things get quiet, and when they get legal, I worry. I worry because clearly the Trump campaign is worried.