On Monday, Trump appeared to admit on Twitter that his White House aides are required to sign nondisclosure agreements, a fact that his aides have refused to confirm for months. The tweet was intended to bash Trump’s former White House assistant Omarosa Manigault Newman, who recently released a tell-all book.
In recent months, multiple reports have claimed that White House aides are ordered to sign NDAs, but the West Wing has refused to confirm these reports—that is, until Trump took to Twitter and did it himself. However, legal experts say the NDAs are virtually unenforceable for government employees. So why does Trump have aides sign them?
Trump has relied on NDAs throughout his business career, and members of the White House counsel’s office revealed they were used just to reassure Trump. Multiple reports and White House aides have revealed Trump’s inherent paranoia, which has only worsened during his time in the Oval Office.
Normally, White House officials sign confidentiality documents that say they will not publicly disclose classified information. However, forcing officials to sign NDAs is not a normal practice for the White House. This is because White House officials work for the taxpayers, and they have a responsibility to the public to whistle-blow if they witness wrongdoing in the government.
Yet White House aides are reportedly ordered to sign NDAs, and the ones that have been leaked are extremely restrictive. During the 2016 campaign, officials working for Trump signed an NDA that promised they would not “demean or disparage publicly” Trump, his company or his family members. The NDA also enforced that the signers could not help any other politician’s campaign if they were running for federal or state office. One former campaign aide revealed, “everyone signed one.”
Just last year, multiple aides report that another NDA made its rounds collecting signatures in the White House. This agreement barred officials from disclosing any information they learned, heard or discussed in the building. Finally, Manigault Newman claims that after she was fired from the White House, she was offered a job that paid $15,000 a month if she signed an NDA restricting her from disclosing any information that could damage Trump and his family, as well as Vice President Mike Pence and his family. Trump’s tweet confirmed the existence of this NDA through his attempts to denounce Manigault Newman as “wacky.”
Trump is currently in the middle of an ongoing feud with Manigault Newman after the release of her book, audio recordings of Trump saying unfortunate statements and her recent accusations against him. Just as this story was published, news broke that the Trump campaign had taken legal action against Manigault Newman.