La Toya Jackson backed away Tuesday from controversial comments directed at her fellow Celebrity Apprentice contestant Omarosa Manigault, but she stopped short of issuing an apology.
Appearing on the Today show with Natalie Morales, Jackson was asked about the comments -- which referenced the passing of Manigault's late fiancé Michael Clarke Duncan -- that she made after being eliminated by Donald Trump during Sunday's episode of All-Star Celebrity Apprentice.
Jackson's comments -- which a lawyer for Manigault called "defamatory" -- included the following statements: "Omarosa's fiance passed away not long ago. He had a heart attack, I'm sure she gave it to him." Jackson also called Omarosa "a conniving, scheming, cut-throat, (who) probably pulled the cord on Michael Duncan Clarke [sic]... and I thought Mr. Trump was falling for that fake cry. Such a lie."
Addressing her earlier comments on Today, Jackson said she had been misunderstood about implying that Manigault's behavior may have somehow contributed to Clarke's death. "I didn't mean it that way at all, not at all," she said. "I think when you are under a lot of pressure, and people are just nudging you and nudging you... but absolutely not. I mean he's a kind guy. He's a sweet guy. He was."
During the interview, Jackson also acknowledged making a mistake on All-Star Celebrity Apprentice by not bringing Manigault back to the boardroom to face Trump, who said he would have fired Manigault over Jackson. "I certainly do, I regret it very much so," she said. But she also added: "I truly believe that he fell for (Manigault's) crocodile tears. I also believe that he wouldn't have gotten rid of her... I kept thinking, 'You know, if I were a producer, I'd keep her in the show to keep the mess going.'"