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Former 'Apprentice' star Omarosa Manigault Newman to leave White House

Omarosa Manigault, pictured in the Roosevelt Room of the White House in February, will leave her White House post on Jan. 20. MUST CREDIT: Washington Post photo by Jabin Botsford

WASHINGTON - Omarosa Manigault Newman, the former reality TV star who followed President Donald Trump into national politics, has stepped down from her post as director of communications at the White House Office of Public Liaison.

"Omarosa Manigault Newman resigned yesterday to pursue other opportunities. Her departure will not be effective until Jan. 20, 2018. We wish her the best in future endeavors and are grateful for her service," press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders wrote in an email.

Manigault Newman is one of few high-profile African-Americans who supported Trump during his presidential campaign last year and is one of the most visible black aides in his administration.

Chief of Staff John Kelly pushed her out and had been frustrated with her for several months, according to a White House official with knowledge of the dynamics. Manigault did not "go quietly" and was eventually escorted off the premises. "She did not voluntarily resign," this person said.

While she is staying until Jan. 20, she is not expected to frequently be at the White House.

Manigault was a polarizing figure in the White House, known for interrupting meetings, subverting chains of command and erupting at other aides whom she didn't like.

But Trump liked her, and she attended several recent events, including the opening of a civil rights museum in Mississippi on Saturday.

Her White House role was unclear and the subject of news reports and sniping by her critics. She struggled to help Trump build a relationship with African-Americans, who have consistently given the president low approval ratings. Manigault Newman also frequently clashed with her colleagues inside the White House, reportedly using her friendship with Trump to ignore the chain of command.

Longtime black Republicans also chafed at Manigault Newman's White House post, arguing that she was not a true member of the party. Before Trump entered the presidential race, she was backing Democrat Hillary Clinton.

During the past several months of the Trump administration, she has engaged in public spats with African-American groups, including the Congressional Black Caucus, grass-roots activists and black journalists. She also was criticized for promising that Trump would provide additional funding to struggling historically black colleges and universities - which didn't quite materialize. The presidents of those institutions gained little other than a highly publicized meeting with administration officials in February, which included a photo op with Trump in the Oval Office.

Manigault Newman became a breakout star in the first season of Trump's "Apprentice" franchise by playing the role of a backbiting villain who would kneecap other contestants in her quest to win. She did not take the top prize, but she became a favorite of Trump, who invited her to participate in subsequent iterations of the show.

She brought that confrontational persona to the political arena, fiercely defending Trump against accusations that he was racist and sexist.

During the campaign last year, she elicited ire and eye-rolls when she predicted in an interview on "Frontline" that Trump would win and that "every critic, every detractor will have to bow down to President Trump."

Armstrong Williams, a businessman and a longtime friend of Manigault Newman, said she had planned to stay only a year in the job, which paid a salary of $179,700 - the highest possible for White House staff.

Asked about reports that Manigault Newman had been forced out, he said "it depends on whose narrative you want to believe." But he didn't dispute the notion that she and Kelly clashed.

"You have to remember, there was a time when Omarosa was one of the few people who could walk right into the president's office. . . To cut that off is a big deal," he said.

"Omarosa is a beast! She's head-strong, brash, sassy, she's in your face. She's like Trump. She's the female Donald Trump," he said, adding: "There's a price you pay when you have a Trump personality and don't have the power to go along with it."

In April, Manigault Newman, who is also an ordained minister, married John Allen Newman, at the time pastor of a church in Jacksonville, Florida, at Trump International Hotel in downtown Washington. The wedding was initially slated to take place in Florida but was relocated because of undisclosed "security concerns." Trump did not attend the wedding.

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