Jacksonville attorney representing Omarosa

Analyst looks at what role John Phillips may play in national political drama

By Kent Justice - Anchor/reporter, ELI WATKINS, CNN

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - A national political drama captured Jacksonville intrigue when a local lawyer joined her team. 

Jacksonville attorney John Phillips posted on social media Saturday that he was representing former White House aide Omarosa Manigault Newman. 

Manigault Newman is married to Jacksonville Pastor John Newman. Together, they were in studio Sunday morning, and Phillips was there too.

In an interview that aired on NBC's "Meet the Press," Manigault Newman claimed that she recorded White House chief of staff John Kelly firing her in the Situation Room.

Manigault Newman provided audio to NBC, which aired portions of her recording during the interview.

"Listen, people would still think that I was trying to set off alarms. So yes, I had to protect myself and I have no regret about it," Manigault Newman told host Chuck Todd.

Kelly can be heard in one of the clips aired by the network Sunday morning suggesting a smooth exit would help her reputation, a remark that Manigault Newman told Todd she took as a threat.

"I think it's important to understand that if we can make this a friendly departure we can all be, you know, you can look at your time here in the White House as a year of service to the nation, and then you can go on without any type of difficulty in the future relative to your reputation," Kelly said on the tape.

News4Jax political analyst Rick Mullaney, director of Jacksonville University's Public Policy Institute, looked at the ramifications of revealing that audio and the role Phillips may play.

"Very explosive this weekend when it was turned out, or when she revealed, that she had been taping recordings inside the Situation Room," Mullaney said Monday. "I actually do think she's well advised to get legal counsel."

Mullaney has extensive legal experience with the city of Jacksonville and state attorney’s office. Manigault Newman, he noted, has a new book going on sale. The book called, “Unhinged: An Insider’s Account of the Trump White House," will be released Tuesday.

Some people believe she’s taking advantage of a marketing opportunity. At the same time, she seems to believe the White House could plan on making life difficult for her. 

"The law governing the taping of these conversations varies from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. So this will play out in Washington, but also the law may vary with regard to security clearances and in this situation," Mullaney said. "So she's very well advised to get legal counsel."

News4Jax reached out to Phillips on Monday, but has not heard back from him.

On Monday morning, he tweeted a photo with Manigault Newman, saying, "With @OMAROSA for the @TODAYshow."

A Facebook post on the Law Office of John M Phillips page said Phillips "has been in New York and Washington this week providing legal advice to Omarosa."

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