WASHINGTON — The Justice Department on Friday sued former White House aide Omarosa Manigault Newman over her new book on the Trump administration, which contains a number of highly sensitive claims about some of the president’s close associates.
The civil suit, filed in U.S. District Court in Washington, seeks to have Mrs. Manigault Newman’s book, “Unhinged,” permanently barred from publication and asks for compensatory and punitive damages. It also seeks to have Mrs. Manigault Newman barred from “speaking, writing, or promoting” her book or any books, reports, or broadcasts related to it.
The suit alleges that Mrs. Manigault Newman has tried to profit from her statements by shopping the book for sale — something that does not appear to be illegal.
It also alleges that Mrs. Manigault Newman has taken steps to conceal the extent of her involvement with the book — something that seems unlikely to be able to avoid the unsealing of her internal agreements to help promote it.
An attorney for Mrs. Manigault Newman did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
In addition to Mrs. Manigault Newman, the suit targets The Washington Post, which published the interview transcripts that led to her departure from the White House and that Ms. Manigault Newman says are the foundation of her book.
The book accuses the president of threatening and inciting violence against his critics and allies and asserts that he personally considered firing the head of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, James B. Comey, after he was let go by the Justice Department in May 2017. The White House has denied such stories and Mr. Trump has even threatened to sue her.
In her own comments to the media Friday, Mrs. Manigault Newman showed no inclination toward suing. Rather, she accused the White House of imposing a chokehold on employees who make damaging disclosures about the president.
“This is about one White House official using her government platform to malign and disparage President Trump and his associates with a book and interviews,” she said. “Even as part of a White House press operation, I could not let it happen and I joined the clearance process to withhold my own troubling information from the public. It is in that spirit that I encourage those who have been similarly harmed to come forward.”
Mrs. Manigault Newman was a long-time aide to Mr. Trump who was charged with political development and liaison work in the White House until she was removed from the staff in December 2017. The following February, after her firing, she was brought back as a reality TV star on the first season of “Celebrity Big Brother.” She stayed on the show while promoting her new book, which came out this week.
The case was filed on behalf of the Justice Department by the Justice Department’s Civil Division’s Office of Legal Counsel. The suit represents President Trump, the White House, and the government of the United States, the suit says. The complaint for declaratory relief was filed on behalf of the Justice Department by the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel, in its capacity as the executive branch’s internal lawyer.
The new complaint does not target Mrs. Manigault Newman’s publisher, Vida Vermilyea, nor does it direct a damage finding on the book — just that it will not be published.