While many may laugh, an Australian expert says the release of a recorded private conversation between President Donald Trump and former staffer Omarosa Manigault-Newman should be taken very seriously.
The release of a recorded private conversation between Donald Trump and former White House staffer Omarosa Manigault-Newman is a symptom of the chaos and drama that surrounds the US President, says an Australian expert on American politics.
While many may laugh it off as just the "latest chapter of what reads more like a reality television show than a normal presidency”, it should be taken seriously Associate Professor in American Politics at University of Sydney’s United States Studies Centre, Brendon O'Connor said.
“To have someone who’s making allegations about Trump isn’t unusual, but it’s maybe unusual in this case because it’s coming from the inside rather than the outside," Professor O'Connor told SBS News.
Reality TV star-turned Trump aide, Ms Manigault-Newman left the White House in December last year after being fired by firing by White House chief of staff John Kelly.
On Monday the 44-year-old, once a staunch defender of President Trump, released a recording of what she claims is a phone conversation she had with Mr Trump after she was fired.
NBC's Today program played the brief recording, in which a voice presumed to be Mr Trump's claims to have had no knowledge that she was sacked and expresses regret at the news.
Why should we care?
The release of the tape provides an insight into the character of the people involved and the nature of the White House, according to Professor O'Connor.
“It just tells us how chaotic and how unusual the inner circle is around Donald Trump," he said.
"A lot of people are nervous about these things. These allegations add to the chaotic and wacky picture of the White House in some ways."
Prof O'Connor admits everything that occurs in Mr Trump's White House should be taken with a "grain of salt", but says it's still important to take this latest incident seriously.
"While some this stuff can be played for laughs, on the other hand, some of this stuff relates to how really important policy and decisions are made. You have to hold these two views simultaneously," he said.
Ms Manigault-Newman rose to fame as a contestant on reality TV show 'The Apprentice' in 2004. She appeared in a number of spinoffs in the years following.
She held the role as director of communications for the Office of Public Liaison in the Trump administration from January to December 2017.
At one time she was one of Mr Trump's most vocal backers, but since her sacking Ms Manigault-Newman has been vocal in objecting to the Trump administration and also returned to reality TV, competing on Celebrity Big Brother in February this year.
Ms Maingault is now promoting a book called Unhinged - which she claims will “blow the whistle” on alleged corruption within the Trump administration.
The White House claims the book is "riddled with lies”.
Will there be implications for Trump?
On Monday, Mr Trump responded to the tape's release via Twitter, describing Ms Maingault-Newman as "wacky" and a "lowlife".
However the damage, if any, may have already been done to the President, Prof O'Connor said.
“If you’re caught on tape, that’s a bit more dramatic that the ‘he said, she said’. It gives harder evidence. The fact that she tape recorded various conversations, that’s going to add more drama to the story if things come out about Trump making inappropriate statements," said Prof O'Connor.
“Trump is a master obfuscator. He puts out so much information and misinformation so I think people start paying less attention to the scandals. People I think, get a sense of ‘scandal fatigue’ with Trump. So recordings of conversations, they provide a bit more hard evidence - rather than the toing and froing of people making claims and Trump denying them.”
- additional reporting by Evan Young.