Most Trump officials on TV apparently signed NDAs prohibiting them from disparaging Trump forever

The original Trump team
(Image credit: Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Omarosa Manigault Newman's Unhinged publicity tour has spilled a bit of sunlight on President Trump's compulsory use of nondisclosure agreements on his campaign and in the White House. On Tuesday, the Trump re-election campaign filed for arbitration, arguing Manigault Newman breached the NDA she signed when she joined the campaign in 2016. She says she did not sign an apparently unprecedented and likely unconstitutional NDA at the White House, but other White House officials were more coy, including White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders.

A former White House and Trump campaign staffer tells The Weekly Standard that even lower-level White House recruits "had to sign them when we went into the building," summarizing the NDA as "straight-up 'No talking bad about Trump or his family.'" It was "snuck in with" other "actual forms you had to sign for the legitimate process of being onboarded," the former staffer said, and unusually, "everything got taken away as soon as we signed it."

On MSNBC, Trump campaign spokesman Marc Lotter said he signed NDAs to work at the White House and on both Trump campaigns, and they obligated him to refrain from saying disparaging things about Trump, his family, Vice President Mike Pence and his family, and any Trump or Pence businesses forever. Katy Tur asked the obvious question: "Say something happened while you were there that horrified you or appalled you or you felt was illegal, etc., and you left and you signed an NDA, you can't talk about it. So again, why should we trust anything you say when you're legally bound to say good things about the person you're coming on to talk about?"

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The White House NDA is probably unenforceable, but as you watch current and former Trump campaign and White House officials on television, it's probably worth remembering that they all at least nominally signed away their right to criticize Trump in perpetuity — and Trump takes his NDAs seriously.

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