This story has been updated with a comment from the U.S. Department of Education.
As has been widely reported in recent days, Omarosa Manigault-Newman, the Apprentice star turned White House official turned Trump critic, spares no details when it comes to skewering her enemies and criticizing the administration in her new book, Unhinged. One of her biggest nemeses was Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, who Manigault-Newman paints as relentlessly out-of-touch and uncaring when it comes to education policy for poor and minority communities.
When DeVos gave the commencement address at Bethune-Cookman, a historically black university, in May 2017, outraged students turned their backs on her and booed her. It was an embarrassing moment for the administration and the video went viral, but DeVos told Manigault-Newman, “I did great!” and tried to explain the students’ negative reaction by disparaging their intellect, according to the book. “They don’t get it. They don’t have the capacity to understand what we’re trying to accomplish.”
Manigault-Newman fired back: “They get it, and they aren’t happy about you or your goals.”
When DeVos later issued a statement saying that HBCUs (historically black colleges and universities) were a form of school choice, Manigault-Newman educated her: “No, Secretary DeVos, it was not always a choice to go to black colleges. Black students had to attend black colleges because most PWI [predominantly white institutions] did not accept black students as recently as the 1960s.”
When Manigault-Newman returned to the White House and complained about DeVos to Trump, she claims the president shook his head in disgust and implied he’d fire her soon: “She is Ditzy Devos, what do you expect? In a very short period of time, I will get rid of her. Believe me, believe me.”
Manigault-Newman, who also claims that DeVos canceled an annual HBCU summit meeting at a hotel, resulting in $75,000 in cancellation fees, is withering in her opinion of the education secretary.
“She is still serving and destroying the education system, in this country. The depth and breadth of her ignorance is a travesty for children.” Later, she adds that DeVos is “woefully inadequate” and “as horrible as you suspect she is.”
DeVos and her agency pushed back hard against the claims made by Omarosa.
“This disgraced former White House employee is peddling lies for profit. The book is a joke as are the false claims she’s making about Secretary DeVos,” said U.S. Department of Education Press Secretary Liz Hill in a statement emailed to Fast Company.