Two days after President Trump and senior adviser Kellyanne Conway confirmed the administration’s unprecedented practice of making White House staffers sign non-disclosure agreements, former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski told reporters that he doubts such agreements for federal employees could hold up in court.
“I just don’t know if they’re valid whatsoever,” he said, adding the caveat that he is not an attorney himself. “Other than the disclosure of classified information, which is a crime in and of itself, I don’t know how you hold a public employee, a government employee, accountable to a non-disclosure agreement. I don’t know how that’s enforceable whatsoever.”
Lewandowski, who says he signed an NDA himself when he joined the Trump campaign back in January of 2015, said at a press breakfast in DC hosted by the Christian Science Monitor that Trump’s insistence on such agreements can be attributed to his private-sector background.
“I think it’s probably the President wanting to bring a business-executive mentality to the government,” he said. “It has been a longtime business practice of the Trump Organization to have non-disclosure agreements.”
Earlier this week, in a televised interview, Conway waved off the outcry around the revelation of the Trump administration pushing NDAs on government employees, which attorneys and ethics experts say is an unconstitutional practice.
“It is typical, and you know it, to sign an NDA in any place of work,” she said. “We’ve all signed them in the West Wing.”
But Lewandowski, who generally stays in lock-step with the Trump administration, disagreed, telling reporters that the reasons for NDAs in the private sector do not make sense for government workers.
“Traditionally, NDAs are so that you can’t steal business from one company and take it to another company, or you have proprietary information that would preclude you from going to a competitor. But I don’t know how you can stop somebody from saying what they want to say about somebody,” he said, noting that several former Trump campaign and White House staffers have “completely disregarded” the NDAs they signed and the administration has yet to successfully enforce one. “You do have the right to free speech, you have the right to talk to people, publish a book, say what you want, or pen an article. I don’t know how you can stop that from happening.”
Lewandowski said his own experience co-writing a book about his time on the campaign trail — an account mostly laudatory of Trump but filled with unflattering details about his temper tantrums and fast food addiction — shows the NDAs are largely an empty threat.
“There was no pushback on the book,” he said. “I was never contacted by the Trump team or Trump attorneys telling me I couldn’t write it. I didn’t have to submit my book to them for their review or consideration.”