Former President Donald Trump is famous — or infamous — for his use of nondisclosure agreements, or NDAs. But journalists Roger Sollenberger and Asawin Suebsaeng, in an article published by the Daily Beast on October 4, explain how that policy may be doing him more harm than good now.
"For decades, Donald Trump has treasured non-disclosure and non-disparagement agreements, using them to prevent staff and associates from divulging information about his political and corporate empires," Sollenberger and Suebsaeng explain. "But a recent court judgment has called into question just how iron-clad these agreements really are, potentially exposing Trump to many of the secrets he's worked to keep private in all facets of his life."
That court judgement involves former Trump ally turned Trump critic Omarosa Manigault Newman, who was a contestant on Trump's 2000s reality show, "The Apprentice" and went on to work in the Trump Administration in 2017. After her tell-all book, "Unhinged: An Insider's Account of the Trump White House" was released in 2018, Trump filed a lawsuit against Newman — claiming that she violated an NDA. But a legal arbitrator recently sided with Newman.
Sollenberger and Suebsaeng note, "In a massive blow to Trump, the arbitrator ruled that the campaign's NDA was too expansive and vague to enforce, ordering the campaign to reimburse Manigault for three years of legal fees. The arbitrator, Andrew Brown, said in his decision that the campaign's NDA went too far by forcing Manigault 'to never say anything remotely critical of Mr. Trump, his family or his or his family members' businesses for the rest of her life.' Brown ruled that 'such a burden is certainly unreasonable.'"
Interviewed by the Beast on October 3, Newman predicted that other Trump associates will be speaking out following that arbitrator's decision.
Newman told the Beast, "This is going to have a massive impact, and it's because of the way Trump treats people when he's done with them. I really do feel that folks who have been mistreated or embarrassed, who certainly have information to share, will go, 'Hmm — well, they haven't heard this story.' There were so many people in the room when he was doing things that were so clearly unlawful, unethical, unhinged — whatever 'un-' you want to use — especially people in the White House. It's not because they're unloyal or don't care about the office or the country; it's because of how he treated people."
The Beast also interviewed Jessica Denson, a former 2016 Trump campaign aide who filed a class action lawsuit against his use of NDAs.
Denson told the Beast, "I took on Trump's illegal campaign NDA as one woman without a lawyer four years ago, and through an unrelenting fight, first defeated this NDA back in March. My victory made it possible for Ms. Manigault Newman's counsel to file for summary judgment and bring closure to her own years-long battle in arbitration. Thanks to my now-extraordinary legal team, we set a historic precedent against Trump's illegal censorship, and continue to fight for class certification of my win to free all those who remain bound to silence for life."
Michael Cohen, Trump's former personal attorney, told the Beast that he was asked to sign a 2016 Trump campaign NDA but never did.
The former Trump ally, now a blistering critic of the ex-president, explained, "I just threw it straight into the shredder, and they're so disorganized that they never knew."