In all the brouhaha about Omarosa, her drama, her accusations, her furtive recording, I haven’t seen a good (or really any) explanation of this: Why did John Kelly take her to the Situation Room to fire her?
The Situation Room isn’t just a big conference room where you might go to have a private conversation. It’s a large conference room complex specifically designed for handling national security briefings, remote conferences and crisis management. It has all the security to discuss the most sensitive topics. It has secure communications to discuss matters with people in other parts of the world. It also has a mix of technology and dedicated personnel to manage crises and review information relative to national security and intelligence matters. People have reasonably asked how Omarosa would have or would have been allowed to secretly record Kelly there. But why were they there in the first place?
For this I’m curious to hear from White House vets. Does this sound normal? Are we civilians just too caught up in the national security theater and it’s really no big deal, personnel meetings take place there all the time?
I guess it could be as simple as Kelly was down there working on something else and he called her down to give her the news and that was that. It’s not like this is some weighty norm. But again, it seems like a pretty obvious question that I haven’t seen answered or really even posed.
Thanks to TPM Reader LR for focusing my attention on this.
Late Update: A reader flags this passage from Politico to my atttention …
On Sunday, she questioned why her December meeting with Kelly was held in the Situation Room, accusing the chief of staff of trying to intimidate her. “Why not have the meeting in the chief of staff’s office? Why put me in the Situation Room and lock the door?” she asked NBC News’ Chuck Todd.
Going into the conversation, Kelly had anticipated a fight, according to two senior administration officials. And rumors had also begun to spread through the White House that Manigault Newman was recording conversations, according to a former senior administration official. Those people said that’s why Kelly took Manigault Newman into the Situation Room, where officials are asked to surrender their electronic devices, which are put under lock and key, before entering.
Staffers are barred from bringing those devices into the Situation Room, where the most sensitive national security discussions are held, because they pose hacking risks. There’s no public evidence that Manigault Newman’s devices have been breached, but the White House believes Kelly’s phone was compromised for months in 2017. The White House decided to ban personal cellphones from the West Wing entirely in January, after Manigault Newman was fired.
That’s an explanation. But it doesn’t sound like a good one. If you knew or suspected someone was recording conversations illicitly, why take them to a room where that’s not allowed and not try to enforce it? Like okay you’re in the Situation Room where that’s not allowed. Why not make her hand over her phone? Something doesn’t compute.