WASHINGTON (CN) — The Department of Justice sued Omarosa Manigault Newman on Tuesday, accusing the former White House staffer of failing to submit a financial disclosure after her abrupt departure from the Trump administration. Her attorney called the lawsuit an “abuse of justice.”
The government claims Manigault Newman, who was director of communications in the White House office of public liaison, violated the Ethics in Government Act. The federal law requires certain employees to file financial disclosures within two weeks of termination.
The government says Manigault Newman was briefed on the policy after President Trump fired her in 2017, but she failed to comply. The government seeks a $50,000 civil penalty.
Manigault Newman’s attorney, John Phillips, released a statement Tuesday afternoon on behalf of his client.
“As a further abuse of justice, the Trump Administration provided media with a complaint before my client was served or even had a chance to read it,” the statement reads.
The federal lawsuit outlines multiple attempts by the White House Counsel’s Office to make contact with Manigault Newman by email regarding the financial disclosure report.
Twice she responded, calling the attorneys to discuss the overdue disclosure and later the same day emailing a reply to Stefan Passantino, then-deputy counsel to the president. But she did not file the report, the government says.
Phillips condemned the lawsuit as premature and retaliatory, calling it “another attempt to silence a dissenting voice.”
Manigault Newman says the administration has been slow to hand over documents seized upon her termination that she need to file the disclosure — failing to even acknowledge the records existed until last month.
“Omarosa Manigault Newman cannot even get a straight answer about the amount of materials wrongly possessed,” her attorney said.
Manigault Newman came into Trump’s circle as a contestant on the reality TV show “The Apprentice.” She released an audio recording last year as evidence to her claims that Trump used racial slurs on the show’s set.
Trump responded by calling her “wacky and deranged,” later filing through his campaign an arbitration action against Manigault Newman in 2018, claiming she breached a confidentiality agreement when she released her book “Unhinged.”
The lawsuit is somewhat ironic, given Trump’s repeated refusals to disclose his own financial dealings.
Manigault Newman has acknowledged signing a secrecy agreement as a member of Trump’s 2016 campaign staff.