Federal investigators examining whether President Donald Trump’s former personal lawyer Michael Cohen committed financial crimes have interviewed former White House staffer and reality TV star Omarosa Manigault-Newman, The Wall Street Journal reported.
According to people familiar with the matter who spoke to the WSJ, the FBI found that Cohen had intervened in a previously unreported dispute between Manigault-Newman and American Media Inc., the media company that paid a former Playboy model for her story on an alleged affair with Trump. The recording of a conversation over that payment between Trump and Cohen was released Tuesday night.
In 2011, Manigault-Newman threatened to file a lawsuit over AMI’s coverage of her brother’s murder. According to the WSJ, the publisher sent a reporter to Manigault-Newman’s brother’s funeral and the writer talked to members of the family without identifying herself. Cohen reportedly intervened and helped draft an agreement under which Manigault-Newman would drop her lawsuit against AMI if they gave her a job, sources told WSJ.
Manigault-Newman worked as an editor for the now-shuttered Reality Weekly, as well as OK! Magazine. A former bureau chief for the National Enquirer told WSJ that he wasn’t not sure what Manigault-Newman’s job actually entailed and that she regularly didn’t come to work.
Manigault-Newman met Trump when she was a contestant on his show “The Apprentice” in 2004, before the dispute with AMI, whose publisher David Pecker is a longtime friend of Trump’s. Manigault-Newman landed a job in Trump’s White House, but was reportedly forced out. She then joined the cast of reality show “Big Brother,” where she expressed discontent with the Trump administration and then walked back the criticism during cable news interviews.
While the resolution with AMI may not have been inappropriate, Cohen’s involvement in the dispute adds convoluted layer to Trump’s former lawyers alleged dealings with AMI and reported attempts to manage hush agreements for Trump.