A reality TV star turned aide to Donald Trump was escorted from the White House after being forced out as a presidential adviser.
Omarosa Manigault Newman, one of the US leader’s most prominent African-American supporters, was said to have resigned after being told she faced dismissal from her post.
According to some US media, the former Apprentice contestant left amid scenes worthy of a TV drama, setting off White House alarms as she barged into the official presidential residence to debate the terms of her departure with Mr Trump.
She was then escorted out by US Secret Service officers before a pass granting her access to the complex was deactivated, according to CBS News.
The official version of events was less dramatic. White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Ms Manigault Newman had quit “to pursue other opportunities”, adding: “We wish her the best in future endeavours and are grateful for her service.”
The president also bid her farewell, tweeting: “Thank you Omarosa for your service! I wish you continued success.”
The White House said her resignation would come into effect on 20 January, a year after the President’s inauguration. But the Secret Service, which provides security for the president, confirmed a pass granting her access to the presidential complex had already been deactivated.
Ms Manigault Newman’s US government email account was also reportedly no longer working on Thursday.
The Secret Service said it “was not involved was not involved in the termination process of Ms Manigault Newman or the escort off of the complex”.
“Our only involvement in this matter was to deactivate the individual’s pass which grants access to the complex,” the agency tweeted.
Ms Manigault Newman was an assistant to the president and director of communications for the White House Office of Public Liaison, working on outreach to various constituency groups.
But anonymous sources reported in US media said the office languished under her watch and White House chief of staff John Kelly had indicated that changes were forthcoming, including her dismissal.
CBS News reported Ms Manigault Newman “did not like the terms of her firing and tried to have that decision changed.”
However, the Washington Post reported Ms Manigault had also been disturbed by Mr Trump’s endorsement of Alabama Senate election candidate Roy Moore, who has a history of racially insensitive remarks and faces allegations he sexually assaulted young girls.
Her exit is expected to mark the beginning of a wave of departures, with national security adviser Dina Powell among those on her way out.
Ms Manigault Newman, who drew a top salary of $179,700, was one of Mr Trump’s highest-profile supporters during the campaign and also worked with his transition team.
A contestant on the first season of the US edition of The Apprentice, the President’s former reality TV show, Ms Manigault Newman had long been unpopular with several senior West Wing officials, including Mr Kelly and Mr Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner.
Mr Kelly, the retired Marine general who made it his mission to tighten White House operations and streamline how Mr Trump gets information, has told aides that he wanted to curtail the number of officials with ill-defined positions and responsibilities.
Mr Kelly took away Ms Manigault Newman’s ability to come and go from the Oval Office as she pleased. During the first months of Mr Trump’s administration, aides were known to wander in and out of meetings, a practice Mr Kelly ended across the board. Ms Manigault Newman also drew his ire by occasionally going around him to slip news articles to the president.
She enjoyed a close relationship with the president despite him once dispatching her from his TV show with the famous line: “You’re fired!” Her wedding was held at Mr Trump’s hotel, a few blocks from the White House, in April.
Ms Manigault Newman also had a knack for generating controversy.
An African-American White House reporter earlier this year accused Ms Manigault Newman of physical and verbal intimidation, including issuing a warning that the White House kept “dossiers” on black journalists. The White House denied compiling such information.
Her appearance at the National Association of Black Journalists’ convention in New Orleans in August devolved into a testy clash with a veteran news anchor during a panel discussion on policing in black communities.
Ms Manigault Newman has not commented on her departure.