The chaotic Trump campaign rally that was shut down at the University of Illinois at Chicago in March 2016 “left a deep scar” on Omarosa Manigault Newman, she writes in her new book.
Manigault Newman, at the time a frequent media surrogate for the campaign, says she was about to board a flight to Chicago when she learned Donald Trump wouldn’t take the stage at the UIC Pavilion. Angry skirmishes among thousands of protesters and supporters that spilled onto the streets outside prompted Trump to cancel the rally for security concerns. Four people were arrested, including a CBS reporter, and two police officers were hospitalized.
“There was a lot of blame to go around for the failure of the Chicago event,” she writes. “We blamed the protesters. We blamed law enforcement for not properly managing the situation. We blamed Chicago and its mayor, Obama acolyte Rahm Emanuel, for not supplying adequate security resources. We blamed everything and everyone, except for Donald Trump.”
The former aide, who met Trump on the set of his “Apprentice” reality show, writes that Trump “relished” the type of conflict seen at the UIC rally — and that that attitude rubbed off on her.
“When I look back and try to pinpoint the moment when, in my own heart, I adopted an ‘us’ versus ‘them’ mind-set, it was that night in Chicago in March 2016. We all had a bunker mentality . . . I never stopped to ask myself what all this conflict meant for the future of the country. If I acknowledged my role in what was happening, I would have had to come to terms with nearly thirteen years of suppressed doubts and concerns about Donald Trump, and I was simply incapable of doing that at that point.”
Trump later blamed the UIC fiasco on “professionally-staged wise guys” who set out to cause problems. An Evanston Democratic consultant stepped down months later after undercover video taken by a conservative group suggested workers might have triggered confrontations at Trump rallies.
“The night of the Chicago rally left a deep scar on my consciousness, and I’d never even reached the city,” Manigault Newman writes. “From my place in the figurative bunker, I came out aggressively to support candidate Trump and believed the argument that the protesters were at fault.”
In the aftermath of the botched rally, she says she was instructed to stick to the campaign strategy of “whataboutism” while making the rounds on cable news, pivoting from questions about provoking conflict to attacking Hillary Clinton over the FBI investigation into her emails.
“It was the only thing we had. At that point, we lacked a platform, plans, big ideas about foreign or domestic policy. All we had was Trump’s bluster, the MAGA slogan, and Hillary’s emails.”
Among the bombshell claims in her book, Manigault Newman says Trump has been recorded using the N-word, an allegation the White House says it can’t guarantee is false. Trump tweeted that he doesn’t “have that word in my vocabulary” but escalated the controversy by referring to his ex-aide as “that dog.”