Trump made senior White House staff sign NDAs

If you're eagerly awaiting juicy tell-alls from Gary Cohn, Hope Hicks, Reince Priebus, or any of the multitude of Trump administration officials who have headed for the exits, don't hold your breath: The president has reportedly required staffers to sign nondisclosure agreements that last, essentially, forever. The report raises plenty of other concerns, such as why the White House Counsel's Office was pressuring federal employees to sign a ridiculous loyalty agreement. Trump hoped to quell leaks by making sure staff knew they could be "on the hook for some serious damages".

"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.

The NDAs were distributed in the early months of the Trump administration, after the president grew furious over information leaking from the White House via anonymous sources.

According to the Washington Post, which first reported on the agreements, White House staffers saw the documents as legally non-binding as well, but signed them to appease Trump. That alone is potentially enough to keep them quiet no matter how much they might want to speak out about their time in the Trump White House.

"When people are chosen by a man to go into government at high levels and then they leave government and they write a book about a man and say a lot of things that were really guarded and personal, I don't like that", Trump said. I mean, I'll be honest.

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According to a draft agreement Marcus said she viewed, violators could face $10 million penalties for each unauthorized release of "confidential information" - and the agreement applied not only to their White House tenures but "all times thereafter". If you have a leaker on your staff, the cure is firing, not suing.

Debra Katz, an attorney who has represented whistleblowers, said something similar to the Post.

The draft agreement defines "confidential" information as "all nonpublic information I learn of or gain access to in the course of my official duties", including "communications [with] the press" and with "employees of federal, state, and local governments". The $10 million figure, I suspect, was watered down in the final version, because the people to whom I have spoken do not remember that jaw-dropping sum. It also prohibits "works of fiction" that mention government operations or are based on confidential information.

White House deputy press secretary Hogan Gidley told reporters onboard Air Force One on Monday that the Post's report was "completely false".

"White House lawyers who knowingly participated in a scheme to illegally coerce unrepresented non lawyer employees & deprive them of First Amendment and other rights could be subject to bar discipline for violating ethics rules-and maybe even lose their licenses", Eisen tweeted.

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