Stephen Colbert couldn’t quite believe he got Omarosa Manigault-Newman to appear on his CBS show Wednesday night. But there she was, fresh off her surprisingly revealing stint on that same network’s Celebrity Big Brother.
“My next guest went from the White House to the Big Brother house, and managed to make it out of both of them alive,” Colbert said, giving his guest a warm welcome.
Despite her dire warnings about the fate of the republic, Omarosa appeared to be in good spirits when she walked onto the stage of the Ed Sullivan Theater. And if she saw any of the clips of Colbert brutally mocking her on The Late Show while she was trapped inside the Big Brother house, she didn’t let on.
Right off the bat, Omarosa admitted that working for Trump’s White House was “a little crazier” than living in an enclosed space with a group of mostly D-list celebrity strangers for 30 days.
When Colbert asked Omarosa about her assertion to fellow contestant Ross Mathews that things are “going to not be OK” under President Trump, she let out an unnerving, maniacal laugh.
“Was that a joke? Because you’re laughing about it,” the host said. “I’m chilled by watching it because you know Donald Trump. You were in the White House, you were close to the events that were happening. What do you mean it’s not going to be OK?”
From there, Omarosa deflected the question by going on a long tangent about how the clip was possibly taken out of context because really it was part of a “bigger discussion” about immigration. “I don’t want 15 seconds on a reality show to encapsulate such a serious topic,” she said.
With that in mind, he asked her again: “Is everything going to be OK under Donald Trump?”
“We’ll have to wait in see,” Omarosa replied, giving a typically Trumpian reality-show-style tease to a deadly serious question.
“That is not a message of hope,” Colbert remarked. “You know, I don’t think it’s any secret that I don’t have the greatest trust in our leadership right now,” he added, asking Omarosa what it was about Trump’s tweets that “haunted” her while she was working for him.
“You know, he announced major policy issues on Twitter—the transgender ban, for instance, was announced on Twitter,” she said. “For someone who is in communications, like Hope [Hicks] and myself, you know, that’s not a place you want to find out at five in the morning about something that would impact so many people’s lives.”
But that being said, Omarosa was deeply reluctant to say anything explicitly negative about Trump’s leadership in this venue. “Look, Donald Trump was my friend for 15 years,” she said. “Watching him in this position, you know, has caused me to, you know, be excited sometimes and sometimes be very, very concerned. And I think if your best friend—if you woke up and your best friend was president tomorrow, you would have that same range of emotions.”
“If my best friend was president tomorrow, I’d feel better,” Colbert deadpanned, prompting applause from his audience. “Because she is way smarter than I am.”
Colbert proceeded to read Omarosa a list of Trump’s worst moments, from “grab ’em by the pussy” to Charlottesville to defending Roy Moore. “Awful, awful, unacceptable, awful, awful, awful, awful, unacceptable, unequivocally unacceptable, awful,” she said definitively.
Yet, as Colbert pointed out, she worked for him through all of it.
“I don’t work for that man anymore, nor do I regret trying to be a voice of reason at the table,” Omarosa said. Recently, she said leaving that job was like being “freed off a plantation.”
“You know, the White House that I worked in, that Trump administration was—it was troubling and it was very difficult,” she told Colbert. “And my analogy of it being a plantation, meaning an ecosystem where people feel oppressed, is pretty clear. When you aren’t allowed to do the job that you were brought to do, to help be a change agent, to help be the liaison for communities that needed that assistance, that’s where that oppression comes from. And that’s what that analogy meant.”
He may not have been satisfied with her answers, but Colbert ended the interview by thanking her for speaking openly about her time in the White House. “Because it is important, it is troubling,” he said. “People are worried, they are afraid that things are not going to be OK.”
Nothing about Omarosa’s comments on The Late Show should reassure them about the man still sitting in the Oval Office.