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Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Former White House staffer Omarosa Manigault-Newman's alleged taping of John Kelly firing her in the Situation Room has prompted questions over the legality of the act, given the supposed location in which it took place.

What they're saying: National security experts largely seem to agree that the surreptitious recording is a worrisome violation of usual White House security norms and procedures, but not a breach of law, given Omarosa's lack of a security clearance and the unclassified nature of the discussion.

  • National security lawyer Bradley Moss: "In and of itself, there is no criminal provision implicated. If there isn't national defense information or classified involved, merely recording...in a SCIF (Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility) is merely a security violation."
  • Former Obama NSC spokesman Tommy Vietor: "I can't get that worked up about Omarosa taping General Kelly in the Situation Room. Yes, it's against the rules. Yes, it's a SCIF. But ultimately the sitroom is just a bunch of conference rooms. He didn't read the PDB (President's Daily Brief) aloud and then fire her. It was an unclassified discussion."
  • Former Obama NSC spokesman Ned Price: The Situation Room "is the inner sanctum within an already-secure facility where the most sensitive of the most sensitive information is discussed. It’s where negotiations with Iran were hashed out. It’s where contingency plans for nuclear launches have been developed. The fact that she was recording a conversation in there really raises alarm bells in the minds of people who have worked in that room. ... It’s a system based on honor and integrity, and there’s a sign outside that says, 'Place your phones here.'"
  • Lawfare Executive Editor Susan Hennessy: "I actually didn't realize Omarosa didn't hold any kind of security clearance. That makes it hard to understand why they were in Situation Room but also means it is far less than 'likely' that she violated federal law as opposed to just breaking dozens of rules and regulations."
  • RNC chairwoman Ronna McDaniel: "Secretly recording conversations in the Situation Room isn't just wildly inappropriate, it's a threat to our national security. If she broke federal law, she should be prosecuted."

Go deeper

Tech scrambles to derail inauguration threats

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Tech companies are sharing more information with law enforcement in a frantic effort to prevent violence around the inauguration, after the government was caught flat-footed by the Capitol siege.

Between the lines: Tech knows it will be held accountable for any further violence that turns out to have been planned online if it doesn't act to stop it.

Dave Lawler, author of World
2 hours ago - World

Uganda's election: Museveni declared winner, Wine claims fraud

Wine rejected the official results of the election. Photo: Sumy Sadruni/AFP via Getty

Yoweri Museveni was declared the winner of a sixth presidential term on Saturday, with official results giving him 59% to 35% for Bobi Wine, the singer-turned-opposition leader.

Why it matters: This announcement was predictable, as the election was neither free nor fair and Museveni had no intention of surrendering power after 35 years. But Wine — who posed a strong challenged to Museveni, particularly in urban areas, and was beaten and arrested during the campaign — has said he will present evidence of fraud. The big question is whether he will mobilize mass resistance in the streets.

Off the Rails

Episode 1: A premeditated lie lit the fire

Photo illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Beginning on election night 2020 and continuing through his final days in office, Donald Trump unraveled and dragged America with him, to the point that his followers sacked the U.S. Capitol with two weeks left in his term. Axios takes you inside the collapse of a president with a special series.

Episode 1: Trump’s refusal to believe the election results was premeditated. He had heard about the “red mirage” — the likelihood that early vote counts would tip more Republican than the final tallies — and he decided to exploit it.

"Jared, you call the Murdochs! Jason, you call Sammon and Hemmer!”