Fired White House aide Omarosa Manigault Newman writes in her new book that President Donald Trump last year referred to U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos as “Ditzy DeVos” and said he would soon “get rid of her.”
Trump’s comments came in May 2017, Manigault Newman writes in her headline-grabbing book, Unhinged: An Insider’s Account of the Trump White House, after DeVos was booed during a visit at historically black Bethune-Cookman University in Daytona Beach, Fla., months after DeVos had been criticized for referring to the nation’s historically black colleges and universities as “real pioneers” of school choice.
“Betsy got up onstage to give her speech and was immediately, loudly booed by the entire audience,” Manigault Newman writes in the book. “Graduating students and their families stood up and turned their backs on her. I was seated onstage watching this travesty unfold.”
Manigault Newman said that DeVos later told her that “They don’t get it. They don’t have the capacity to understand what we’re trying to accomplish.”
Manigault Newman writes in the book that, in her view, the secretary was suggesting that “all those black students were too stupid to understand her agenda.” She writes that she replied to DeVos, “Oh no, Madam Secretary. They get it. They get it, and they aren’t happy about you or your goals.”
Manigault Newman writes that the next day, DeVos was participating in another event in Florida, but that the secretary’s entourage departed early and left Manigault Newman behind at the hotel. When DeVos or a staff member told Manigault Newman to take an Uber to the event, Manigault Newman instead took a car straight to the airport.
“I was through,” she writes. “We’d been booed by the entire auditorium. People were angry. There were protesters. I’d been getting death threats daily. And she’d left me completely alone with no security?”
After Manigault Newman later gave the president a summary of what transpired, she claims that Trump “shook his head in disgust” and suggested he would fire DeVos in the near future.
“He said, ‘She is Ditzy DeVos, what do you expect? In a very short period of time, I will get rid of her. Believe me, believe me,’” Manigault Newman writes.
In her book, Manigault Newman says DeVos “is still serving and destroying the education system in this country. The depth and breadth of her ignorance is a travesty for the children.”
Indeed, well more than a year after that purported incident, DeVos is still serving in Trump’s cabinet, while Manigault Newman, a former participant on Trump’s TV show “The Apprentice” and an adviser on public engagement to the president, was dismissed in December from her White House job.
Liz Hill, the spokeswoman for the U.S. Department of Education, said in an email, “This disgraced former White House employee is peddling lies for profit. The book is a joke as are the false claims she’s making about Secretary DeVos.”
Photo: Television personality and former White House staffer Omarosa Manigault Newman.--Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP
A version of this news article first appeared in the Education and the Media blog.