There's talk about whether Omarosa Manigault Newman should be invited back to the proverbial cookout now that she's speaking out against President Trump.

Let me say this.

Although I may not invite her to mine, if she's at yours, I'm going to sit right next to her. I'm going to inch my lawn chair as close to hers as I can get. Heck, I'm not even going to eat, for fear of missing something the ousted White House aide might say.

You can hate her "bigly," as Trump might say. You can try and tune out her self-promoting media tour for her new book, Unhinged: An Insider's Account of the Trump White House. But I interviewed Manigault Newman on Tuesday and would do it again if I could. Sneer if you want, but she once had a seat at the world's most powerful table.

Manigault Newman, who met Trump 15 years ago when she competed on NBC's The Apprentice, was a media surrogate during his presidential campaign and followed him to the White House, where she served as his spokesperson for the Office of Public Liaison. Before being fired by Chief of Staff John Kelly in December, she was one of the highest-ranking African Americans in the Trump administration.

Omarosa Manigault Newman with President Trump in 2017.
PABLO MARTINEZ MONSIVAIS
Omarosa Manigault Newman with President Trump in 2017.

That's why I raced out and bought her 334-page book just before the Barnes & Noble closed one night last week. I read every single juicy word of it.  The gossipy tidbits she dropped made it seem like a beach read. Had Trump really considered being sworn into office with his hand on his best-seller, The Art of the Deal? Instead of a Bible?

Trump also allegedly calls Education Secretary Betsy DeVos "Ditzy DeVos" behind her back; has a tanning bed in the White House; drinks eight cans of Diet Coke a day; has difficulty retaining information; and "has only a surface-level understanding of the content he's signing into law." Manigault Newman even claims she once saw Trump chew and swallow a note given to him by his former personal attorney, Michael Cohen, who pleaded guilty Tuesday to breaking campaign finance laws by paying off, at Trump's direction, Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal.

I was riveted especially as Manigault Newman described how she came to see her former mentor as a racist in a declining mental state.

Not one to be upstaged, Trump has retaliated by crudely referring to Manigault Newman  as "that dog" and "a crazed, crying lowlife."

The book left me wanting more, so I phoned her publicist. I  wanted to know more about how she taped the meeting in the White House Situation Room during which Kelly can be heard firing her, and recorded Lara Trump's offering her a post-White House salary of  $15,000 a month to be a Trump booster. There's even one in which a seemingly sympathetic Trump can be heard talking to her after the dismissal.  What made her decide to make those recordings? And are there really tapes from Trump's days on The Apprentice on which he spews the n-word, as she claims in her book? Does she also have videotapes?

"Unfortunately, I'm not going to be able to go as expansively into the background of the tapes as I'd like to," she told me. "But I will say that had I not documented particularly that situation in the Situation Room where the chief of staff of the White House, Gen. Kelly, took me into the basement of the White House to threaten me…. I think it would be very hard for anyone to believe that that happened in the Situation Room in one of the most secure rooms in the country."

About the president's calling her a dog, she said, "This type of shameful behavior, it just tarnishes the office of the president. He is completely dismantling the dignity of that office."

As the call wound down, I asked about her villainous reputation. A lot of folks already didn't like her and, even though she's changed her mind about Trump, a lot of voters still haven't changed their minds about her.

"I'm not looking or begging to be at anybody's table," she told me. "I've worked hard enough in my life and my career that I can throw my own cookout."