Trump aide sparks convention uproar

NEW ORLEANS -- The appearance of Omarosa Manigault-Newman, a White House aide, caused an uproar at a National Association of Black Journalists convention Friday after she refused to answer some questions about President Donald Trump's recent remarks encouraging police to be rougher while arresting criminal suspects.

Manigault-Newman, director of communications for the White House Office of Public Liaison, appeared at the annual gathering for a panel that was called "Black and Blue: Raising Our Sons, Protecting Our Communities." It was moderated by longtime journalist Ed Gordon, a host at Bounce TV.

The event began cordially, but within minutes, it became a shouting match between Manigault-Newman and Gordon. She interrupted him, accusing him several times of attacking her as Gordon pressed for answers about her role in the Trump administration and changes to criminal justice policies under Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

Manigault-Newman noted that in her role, she is often the "only African-American representative" in the White House and frequently tries to advocate on behalf of black people.

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Gordon asked Manigault-Newman about what she had told the president after his remarks encouraging rougher treatment of suspects. Manigault-Newman said she could not "disclose confidential conversations with the president," which elicited sighing and snickering in the crowd, though Manigault-Newman said she thought it was wrong for Trump to make those comments.

She later said she had invited several law enforcement officials to visit the White House to discuss criminal justice issues. But at one point, asked how she worked with the Justice Department on issues of policing, Manigault-Newman suggested that people in the room should "Google" her work. Pressed about the topic later, she added, "It's not even part of my portfolio."

"I'm not going to stand here and defend everything about Donald Trump," she said, drawing sighs in the audience.

Heading into the forum, several journalists who were scheduled to be on the panel backed out over the addition of Manigault-Newman, who became famous after appearing on The Apprentice.

The panel ended abruptly when Manigault-Newman walked off the stage after Gordon said it was a "quagmire" that had "reached the point of diminished returns."

A Section on 08/12/2017

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