On Sunday, news anchor Anderson Cooper’s long-awaited interview with adult film actor Stormy Daniels will air on CBS’s 60 Minutes.
In that interview, we are likely to hear about the non-disclosure agreement (NDA) Donald Trump’s attorney allegedly made Daniels sign after she and Trump had sex over a decade ago.
As a private citizen, Trump often required Trump Organization employees to sign non-disclosure agreements that swore them to secrecy.
He did it as a presidential candidate.
He did it as President-elect.
Now Trump is president, he has brought the practice in the White House.
Last Sunday, the Washington Post reported it had obtained NDA drafts senior White House staff signed in early 2017.
A $10 million dollar penalty ensues if any of the signatories breach the contract in the following ways:
- Disclose “confidential” (nonpublic information privy to while employed at the White House) information shared with the press or any federal, state, or local government employee.
- Publish “works of fiction that contain any mention of the operations of the White House, federal agencies, foreign governments, or other entities interacting with the United States Government that is based on confidential information.”
The NDA would also not expire after the signer’s tenure at the White House concludes, but would be enforced “at all times thereafter.”
In response to the report, the American Civil Liberties Union’s (ACLU) Ben Wizner made the following statement:
“Public employees can’t be gagged by private agreements. These so-called NDAs are unconstitutional and unenforceable.”
The White House disputes the $10 million penalty.
White House spokesman Hogan Gidley told reporters traveling on Air Force One:
“While nondisclosure agreements are commonplace and common practice for previous administrations, I can say the report that staff were required or asked to sign $10 million nondisclosure agreements is not true. But past that, I can’t get into security and obviously I can’t get into that any further.”
When asked if he was required to sign one, Gidley said:
“I’ve never seen one. I’ve never been asked to sign one. And I have never signed one.”
“I think they should [sign NDAs]. . . .And I don’t know, there could be some kind of a law that you can’t do this. But when people are chosen by a man to go into government at high levels and then they leave government and they write a book about a man and say a lot of things that were really guarded and personal, I don’t like that. I mean, I’ll be honest. And people would say, oh, that’s terrible, you’re taking away his right to free speech. Well, he’s going in.”
When Woodward asked if such agreements were “airtight,” Trump replied:
“I think they’re extremely airtight. Let’s put it this way: it’s so airtight that I’ve never had…you know, I’ve never had a problem with this sort of thing.”
In 2013, Trump successfully sued a Miss Universe contestant for $5 million after she complained the pageant was rigged.
Trump also sued his first wife Ivana, and eventually settled, for allegedly violating their divorce’s confidentiality agreement.
Image credit: PHOTO ILLUSTRATION BY LYNE LUCIEN/THE DAILY BEAST