Sep 2, 2018

Scoop: How Omarosa secretly taped her victims

Illustration: Lazaro Gamio/Axios

Omarosa taped nearly every conversation she had while working in the White House, including ones with "all of the Trumps," a source who watched her make many of the tapes tells Axios. Omarosa did this with a personal phone, almost always on record mode.

Why it matters: Omarosa is far from the only White House staffer to exploit lax internal oversight and loose loyalties to collect damaging info on Trump and others. And we know of several staffers who took careful notes for future deployment.

Omarosa, whose book became a New York Times bestseller after she was fired from the White House, was also (perhaps rightly) paranoid:

  • The source said Omarosa "wouldn't write me on email or text me — many [conversations] happened on Facebook Messenger (she didn’t want what happened to Hillary Clinton and her emails to happen to her)."

How Omarosa made the tapes, according to the source:

  • She carried two phones, her personal phone and her government-issued one.
  • She would often put conversations she had on her work phone on speaker, then record those with her personal phone.
  • Before heading into meetings, she would often press "record" on her personal phone — which she carried in her pocket or in a small purse.

Omarosa said she recorded people so she could go back and refer to them later, the source said. But she also wanted to "cover her own butt."

  • Why it was so easy: People in the White House paid much less attention to personal phones before leaking became ubiquitous.
  • In January, chief of staff John Kelly instituted a ban on personal devices in the West Wing on weekdays between 6 a.m. and 8 p.m.

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Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins, the CDC, and China's Health Ministry. Note: China numbers are for the mainland only and U.S. numbers include repatriated citizens.

The novel coronavirus continues to spread to more nations, and the U.S. reports a doubling of its confirmed cases to 34 — while noting those are mostly due to repatriated citizens, emphasizing there's no "community spread" yet in the U.S. South Korea's confirmed cases jumped from 204 on Friday to 433 on Saturday.

The big picture: COVID-19 has now killed at least 2,362 people and infected more than 77,000 others, mostly in mainland China. New countries to announce infections recently include Israel, Lebanon and Iran.

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Centrist Democrats beseech 2020 candidates: "Stand up to Bernie" or Trump wins

Bernie Sanders rallies in Las Vegas, Nevada on Feb. 21. Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images

Center-left think tank Third Way urgently called on the Democratic front-runners of the 2020 presidential election to challenge Sen. Bernie Sanders on the South Carolina debate stage on Feb. 25, in a memo provided to Axios' Mike Allen on Saturday.

What they're saying: "At the Las Vegas debate ... you declined to really challenge Senator Sanders. If you repeat this strategy at the South Carolina debate this week, you could hand the nomination to Sanders, likely dooming the Democratic Party — and the nation — to Trump and sweeping down-ballot Republican victories in November."

Situational awareness

Warren Buffett. Photo: Daniel Zuchnik/WireImage

Catch up on today's biggest news:

  1. Warren Buffett releases annual letter, reassures investors about future of Berkshire Hathaway
  2. Greyhound bars immigration sweeps
  3. U.S. military officially stops offensive operations in Afghanistan
  4. America's future looks a lot like Nevada
  5. Centrist Democrats beseech 2020 candidates: "Stand up to Bernie" or Trump wins