Before she was fired, White House aide and reality TV star Omarosa Manigault Newman was ferried around Washington, D.C., by a service operated by the U.S. military at taxpayer expense — a privilege typically limited only to the very highest aides to the president, at the president’s discretion.
Newman had been “using the White House car service — known as ‘CARPET’ — as an office pick-up and drop-off service,” according to Politico, which corroborated the story with three administration officials.
“CARPET” operates out of the White House Transportation Agency, which is a part of the U.S. Army Military District of Washington. The district also oversees Arlington National Cemetery, the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment, and other military functions in Washington.
The official website describes the district as “the key defense support in the rescue and recovery operations at the Pentagon” after the 9/11 attacks.
During his tenure, President Jimmy Carter cut back access to the transportation service, and by 1986, only Cabinet secretaries, deputy secretaries, the White House budget director, and up to six aides of the president’s choosing could use it.
President Bill Clinton signed a memorandum in 1992 that said the use of the car privilege was designed to “facilitate the efficient operation” of the government and cut down on abuse.
“This privilege has been abused by certain executive branch officials,” he said, “and has come to exemplify a government out of touch with the American people.”
In attempting to deflect from negative comments that Newman made about Trump while appearing on “Celebrity Big Brother,” White House spokesman Raj Shah claimed she had “limited contact” with Trump while she worked for the White House.
If that’s true, why was she permitted to use a car service that has traditionally been only for top aides to the president?
Either Trump authorized her usage of the military transportation service at taxpayer expense, or she was able to use her status as a former “Celebrity Apprentice” to gain access to these services via her Trump connection — and no one ostensibly in charge at the White House was paying any attention.
The behavior echoes other Trump officials who have been relying on the government to provide them with private luxuries.
EPA head Scott Pruitt was recently caught billing taxpayers $90,000 for first-class airplane flights. The Trump Cabinet has collectively spent over $1 million for luxury travel expenses. Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price was forced out last year over the travel scandal.
Not only did Trump hire a reality TV contestant to be a part of his inner circle, but she was allowed to use the U.S. military as her personal taxi service. Like the others in Trump’s orbit, she was given a green light to abuse government resources and squander taxpayer dollars.
In other words, she was emulating Donald Trump.