State Politics

SC’s Clyburn defends Omarosa against Trump’s attacks

After sit-in ends, Jim Clyburn talks about his friend John Lewis

Outside the U.S. Capitol, Rep. Jim Clyburn, R-S.C. spoke about his friend Rep. John Lewis, who led the 26-hour sit in for gun legislation that ended June 23, 2016.
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Outside the U.S. Capitol, Rep. Jim Clyburn, R-S.C. spoke about his friend Rep. John Lewis, who led the 26-hour sit in for gun legislation that ended June 23, 2016.

Of all the jabs Donald Trump has taken at his adversaries since entering the national political arena, it was the president’s pronouncement of ex-aide Omarosa Manigault-Newman as a “dog” that most offended U.S. Rep. Jim Clyburn.

“I don’t know of anything that has been more troubling to me that this president has done than refer to a professional woman as a dog,” said Clyburn, a Columbia Democrat.

The most senior black lawmaker in Congress and the third-ranking member of House Democratic leadership, Clyburn, who is eying a possible bid for speaker, said Trump’s derision of Manigault-Newman, an African-American, was misogynistic as well as racist.

Manigault-Newman, a star of Trump’s former reality TV show “The Apprentice” and a White House adviser until her firing late last year, currently is on a publicity tour for her new book, a tell-all account of the Trump administration. She has accused Trump, among other things, of using the “n-word,” which prompted Trump to call her “a dog,” “a lowlife” and “crazy.”

Manigault-Newman is on the opposite end of the political and ideological spectrum from Clyburn, who said most Republicans were “enablers” of the president.

But the two have known each other for a long time, Clyburn said. Manigault-Newman is friendly with Clyburn’s daughter, former Federal Communications Commission head Mignon Clyburn. Manigault-Newman also attended two historically black colleges, and Clyburn’s support for those institutions is a major part of his legislative portfolio.

“I think that you reap what you sow. Omarosa is now reaping the harvest which she helped to sow,” said Clyburn. “But even that doesn’t give license to any man, least the president of the United States, to refer to any woman, least of all an African-American woman, in this way.

“We know the history of this country. We know the history of the people of color in this country. And there are certain things you ought to have enough respect for in our history not to say certain things about, and to certain people.

“I have asked one of my staffers to reach out to her, and I’ve told Mignon I was going to call Omarosa when I have the chance,” he continued. “I just want to let her know that ... I’m thinking about her.”

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders denied Tuesday that there were racial undertones to Trump’s derision of Omarosa, saying the president was “an equal opportunity person that calls things like he sees it.”

“This has absolutely nothing to do with race,” she said, “and everything to do with the president calling out someone’s lack of integrity.”

But Clyburn insisted Trump’s comments were part of a pattern of the administration going after women of color.

The first instance, said Clyburn, was when black U.S. Rep. Frederica Wilson, D-Fla., accused Trump of being insensitive to the widow of a soldier killed in a 2017 ambush in Niger. Afterward, White House chief of staff John Kelly told reporters Wilson used the dedication ceremony of a new FBI building, named for slain agents, to boast about getting the money for its completion. In fact, Wilson did no such thing.

“It was the most blatant lie I’ve ever seen in government,” said Clyburn, “and John Kelly never walked away from it.”

Then, came Trump’s attacks on black U.S. Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., who has urged voters to protest members of the administration. Trump often has referred to Waters’ “low IQ,” which Clyburn called an attack on black women’s intelligence.

“And, now,” he said, “there’s Omarosa.”