A federal judge on Tuesday ruled that former Trump White House aide Omarosa Manigault Newman could not force former President Trump or former chief of staff John Kelly to be deposed in a lawsuit that is connected to her departure from the administration in 2018.
In a 17-page opinion granting the DOJ’s request, Judge Richard Leon of the D.C. District Court denied her request to force Trump’s or Kelly’s testimony in her case. That ruling also applies to any member of the White House counsel’s office.
According to The Hill: “The lawsuit stems from Manigault Newman’s failure to file a financial disclosure form upon being let go from her position as director of communications in the Office of Public Liaison. According to Leon’s opinion, former government employees have to file their report within 30 days of departing, which Manigault Newman “knowingly and willingly” failed to do.”
The complaint contends that for approximately a year following Manigault Newman’s being fired, they made a number of attempts to contact her about her duties, but to no avail.
The lawsuit in question was filed against Manigault Newman in July of 2019 by the Department of Justice.
The former aide claims that the Department of Justice is pursuing her out of Trump’s desire to “retaliate” and not because of “reasonable cause.” Therefore, she claims she has a right to depose him. The judge did not see it that way.
“A party attempting to depose a high-ranking official must demonstrate ‘extraordinary circumstances’ requiring such deposition,” the judge wrote in his opinion. Manigault Newman argued that neither party was still in office and the judge ruled that the stance was “irrelevant” to her case.
“The need to protect the integrity of the underlying decision-making process, and encourage public service by protecting officials from ‘indiscriminate depositions,’ continue to persist after the official leaves government service,” Leon stated in his opinion.
“Defendant has not carried her burden of demonstrating that deposing former President Trump is appropriate. Unfortunately for defendant, even assuming former President Trump has first-hand knowledge about how this case was referred to the Department of Justice, this information is irrelevant to any claim or defense in this case,” the judge concluded.
The former “Apprentice” star went after Kelly because she claimed he had “direct knowledge” of briefings where she said she was given information concerning her obligation. The judge denied that argument as well because she “failed to prove that this information about those meetings, where she claims she acted in ‘good faith’ to complete her obligations couldn’t be obtained elsewhere.”
Judge Leon did stipulate, however, that her attorneys would be allowed to depose a Justice Department attorney named Ashley Cheung who allegedly has knowledge concerning the case.
Manigault Newman wrote that Cheung has information that pertains to her “willful desire and need to obtain” the boxes of financial information in question and that she has “knowledge of the process” taken “to retrieve her boxes of financial information so that she could complete the financial disclosure report.”
If Manigault Newman loses, she may have to pay a $50,000 fine if the Department of Justice gets its way.
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