CBS News Suggests ‘N-Word’ Tape Exists, Omits Aide’s Suggestion that It Does Not

Omarosa Manigault (R), White House Director of Communications for the Office of Public Liaison, sits behind US President Donald Trump as he speaks during a meeting with teachers, school administrators and parents in the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington, DC, February 14, 2017. / AFP / SAUL …
SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images

CBS News reported Tuesday morning that a 2016 recording of Donald Trump’s campaign staff released by Omarosa Manigault-Newman “appears to confirm” her claims that they were aware of an “n-word” tape — but omitted that one of those staffers said Monday night that the supposed source of the tape had denied it.

In the reported recording of an alleged phone conversation from October 2016, the staffers — including Lynne Patton, now a senior administration official at the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) — appear to discuss how to handle an alleged “n-word” tape if it were released.

The tape suggests none of them had heard such a tape, and Patton is supposedly heard saying that Trump told her he had never used the word.

At the time, in the wake of the Access Hollywood tape of Trump speaking about groping women, rumors were circulating in the media that other tapes existed, including tapes of Trump saying the “n-word.” Comedian Tom Arnold made similar claims in December 2016, and has made his search for the tapes the basis for an entire television show.

CBS News noted that it had not verified the authenticity of the tape of the October 2016 phone conversation, but reported that it “appears to confirm Omarosa’s claims that Trump campaign officials were aware of a tape in which then-candidate Trump uses a racial slur, and they talked about how to handle it.”

CBS News’ Weijia Jiang cited Patton’s statement from Monday night — which was released more than nine hours before the CBS News report aired Tuesday morning — denying the existence of the telephone conversation.

But Jiang and CBS omitted the rest of Patton’s statement, including the fact that she said the supposed source of the “n-word” tape, former Apprentice producer Bill Pruitt, had denied that he ever had an “n-word” tape.

The relevant portion of Patton’s statement is as follows:

On December 12, 2017, at approximately 11:30PM (EST) – a date I now know to be the evening Omarosa was relieved of her official duties by General Kelly – I received a telephone call from her informing me that she had personally heard a second-hand recording of President Trump using the “N-word” in a derogatory fashion.

She proceeded to tell me the full name of the individual who played this second-hand tape for her, from whom the primary audio tape had originated, as well as the specific context of the President’s usage of this term and to whom the derogatory term was allegedly directed.

Omarosa also proceeded to inform me that she had officially submitted her resignation to General Kelly and that I should promptly do the same before the audio surfaced.

The next morning, I immediately notified senior communications officials and a Trump family member of the same, only to discover the true nature of her departure was termination.

Today, the individual who Omarosa confirmed to me as having played the second-hand audio recording to her last year confirmed that they have no tape, never had possession of a tape, never claimed to have possession of a tape and never played such a tape for Ms. Manigault-Newman.

Tonight, on the MSNBC program, Hardball, Omarosa revealed to the general public what she had told me last December: That former Apprentice producer, Bill Pruitt, was the original source of the “N-word” tape.

Bill Pruitt is a mutual friend.

I just spoke to Bill Pruitt tonight before releasing this statement.

He confirmed to me (before Hardball had even gone off the air) that he does NOT have an audio tape of President Trump using the “N-word” and has NEVER had an audio tape of President Trump using the “N-word.” Period.

CBS News omitted Patton’s claim that subsequent investigation had suggested the supposed source of the “n-word” tape ever possessed the tape or played it for Omarosa.

Instead, CBS News tried to suggest the “n-word” tape did, or does, exist by alleging that a conversation about the possible existence of the tape — a conversation supposedly denied by Patton and others — actually took place.

It is not even clear that Omarosa’s new tape actually contradicts Patton’s and the other staffers’ claims about the conversation.

In her statement, Patton denied that she had participated “in a conference call with Katrina Pierson advising me, Jason Miller and Omarosa Manigault-Newman that Frank Luntz had heard President Donald J. Trump use a derogatory racial term.”

But Frank Luntz is not mentioned on the tape released by Omarosa, as reported by CBS News.

Jiang also noted that Trump spokesperson Katrina Pierson had also denied the conversation took place in an interview with Ed Henry on Fox News on Monday night.

But Pierson was specifically asked about a conversation that referred to Frank Luntz.

Luntz has also denied that he had ever said the president used such a term.

Unless there is an unreleased portion of Omarosa’s new tape in which Frank Luntz was mentioned, Patton and Pierson would appear to have been telling the truth about such a conversation.

Update: Patton issued statements via Twitter disputing the claim that Omarosa’s tape contradicted them:

CBS News’ Jiang issued an update:

Patton responded, and the argument continued.

Pierson made her own clarification to the Daily Beast:

But on Tuesday morning following the release of the audio by CBS, Pierson amended this, saying she was simply humoring Manigault Newman’s “obsession” with this alleged Trump “N-word” tape, and likened it to entertaining a “crazy” conversation from a friend or relative.

“She was obsessed with it,” Pierson told The Daily Beast. “Omarosa had been concern trolling [about] this tape daily. She was obsessed…Finally, I got to the point where, when it was just us, I would roll with it because there were other things that I needed to deal with. But of course I wasn’t saying he actually said it…There were several times that I would play to her just to keep her out of the way, as I’ve already stated publicly. The thing here is there was never a conference call confirming anything. It was all speculation, all rumor, all strategy, it was never confirming anything.”

She issued a statement later Tuesday:

During the 2016 campaign, we heard rumors about an alleged tape from “The Apprentice.” It’s clear now that those rumors were always being circulated by Omarosa and her alone. In her secret tape recording of me, it was one of many times that I would placate Omarosa to move the discussion along because I was weary of her obsession over this alleged tape.  To be clear, I never organized a conference call with Jason Miller to confirm Mr. Trump said anything. That discussion was nothing other than sifting through unconfirmed rumors regarding the Apprentice tape and the transcript supports my statement. Omarosa fabricated the story by conflating numerous discussions.

David Martosko of the Daily Mail chided the media for not demanding a full, unedited version of the Omarosa tapes:

And Luntz reiterated his earlier denial:

Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. He is also the co-author of How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, which is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.

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