Donald Trump forced White House aides to sign nondisclosure agreements that will prohibit them from speaking about his actions even after he's out of the White House, the Washington Post reported today.
According to the Post, a draft of the agreement laid out a $10 million punishment for speaking about the public's business. Such a thing is unprecedented in the United States.
"The President is trying to legally silence public employees from *ever* speaking or writing about what they see while doing the people’s business," tweeted Dartmouth political science professor Brendan Nyhan. "Chilling and scary. What would you think if you saw it in another country?"
The President is trying to legally silence public employees from *ever* speaking or writing about what they see whi… https://t.co/xbo1GRCUA6— Brendan Nyhan (@Brendan Nyhan) 1521404452.0
Employees of the White House work for the American people, not Donald Trump. And so, as Nyhan points out, these NDAs, like provisions of the contract Trump has now admitted to signing with a porn star who he had sex with and then paid hush money to, are likely unenforceable. But that doesn't make it OK.
"Even if the White House NDAs are unenforceable, they (a) still could have a chilling effect and (b) are inconsistent with the principles we expect the leader of a free society to uphold," he wrote.
Even if the White House NDAs are unenforceable, they (a) still could have a chilling effect and (b) are inconsisten… https://t.co/K2rmsOCx02— Brendan Nyhan (@Brendan Nyhan) 1521404779.0
Debra Katz, an attorney who has represented whistleblowers, said something similar to the Post.
“This is crazy,” Katz said. “The idea of having some kind of economic penalty is an outrageous effort to limit and chill speech. Once again, this president believes employees owe him a personal duty of loyalty, when their duty of loyalty is to the institution.”