Responding to accusations that former Trump aide Omarosa Manigault broke federal law by recording her firing in the the super-secure White House Situation Room, a selection of legal scholars dismissed the claim as so much smoke with no fire.
According to Axios, RNC head Ronna Romney McDaniel tweeted out, “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.”
McDaniel was responding to an extensive interview Manigault game on NBC’s Meet the Press where host Chuck Todd played audio of a secret recording she made when she was being fired.
As Axios notes, National Security expert Bradley Moss told NPR’s Tim Mak he didn’t see it as a federal crime, explaining, “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.”
Lawfare executive editor Susan Hennesy agreed, contributing, “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.”
Law & Crime also weighed in, stating, “Without a very generous and liberal interpretation of the statute here, Omarosa recording Kelly did not ‘disrupt the orderly conduct of Government business or official functions.’ It maybe makes John Kelly and the White House look a bit more incompetent than previously discovered–but that’s not what the statute is referring to–and that’s not really much of a surprise.”
Tommy Vietor, who served as President Barack Obama’s NSC spokesperson dismissed the whole kerfluffle out of hand.
“I can’t get that worked up about Omarosa taping General Kelly in the Situation Room,” he tweeted. “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.”