Trump campaign ordered to fork over $350,000 for trying to enforce 'unenforceable' NDA

Donald Trump.
(Image credit: Sean Rayford/Getty Images)

The campaign organization for former President Donald Trump was recently ordered to hand over more than $350,000 in legal fees and expenses after attempting to enforce an "unenforceable" nondisclosure agreement against an ex-staffer, BuzzFeed News reports Friday.

An arbitrator in the nonpublic arbitration case found that though Alva Johnson's — the ex-staffer — attempt to sue Trump failed, his campaign was unable to "invoke a legally unsound nondisclosure agreement," BuzzFeed News writes. Johnson had alleged the former president once tried to forcibly kiss her, and also made claims of pay discrimination.

The March 10 order requiring the Trump campaign to pay Johnson was made public this week.

Subscribe to The Week

Escape your echo chamber. Get the facts behind the news, plus analysis from multiple perspectives.


Sign up for The Week's Free Newsletters

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

Sign up

The former president has often used arbitration to try and keep unseemly claims out of the limelight, rather than allow an issue to go to court and risk public hearings and documents, BuzzFeed News explains. During his campaign in 2016, many staffers were directed to sign NDAs "that broadly barred them from sharing information about the campaign or saying negative things about Trump, his family, and his businesses."

But in two previous cases involving ex-staffers and the NDAs, "a judge and an arbitrator concluded that key sections of that agreement were too vague and ill-defined to be constitutionally enforceable," per BuzzFeed News. In Johnson's case, the arbitrator found the previous rulings to be persuasive enough and dismissed the campaign's complaint against her.

Her lawyers then requested that, as the winning party, the Trump campaign pay their legal bills. The arbitrator, Victori Bianchini, agreed and ordered Team Trump to pay $303,285, as well as the costs of the arbitration itself, which amounted to about $50,000. Read more at BuzzFeed News.

Continue reading for free

We hope you're enjoying The Week's refreshingly open-minded journalism.

Subscribed to The Week? Register your account with the same email as your subscription.

Brigid Kennedy

Brigid is a staff writer at The Week and a graduate of Syracuse University's S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications. Her passions include improv comedy, David Fincher films, and breakfast food. She lives in New York.