Trump Had Senior WH Staff Sign NDAs, WaPo Deputy Editorial Page Editor Says

WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 7: (AFP OUT) U.S. President Donald Trump returns to the White House following a weekend trip with Republican leadership and members of his cabinet at Camp David, on January 7, 2018 in Washing... WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 7: (AFP OUT) U.S. President Donald Trump returns to the White House following a weekend trip with Republican leadership and members of his cabinet at Camp David, on January 7, 2018 in Washington, D.C. (Photo by Kevin Dietsch-Pool/Getty Images) MORE LESS
|
March 18, 2018 6:29 p.m.

Early in his presidency, Donald Trump pressured White House staff to sign non-disclosure agreements meant to last beyond his time in office, the Washington Post’s deputy editorial page editor wrote in a column Sunday.

The editor, Ruth Marcus, wrote that a draft of the non-disclosure agreement she saw carried $10 million penalties — “payable to the federal government,” she wrote — for each violation. Marcus acknowledged, based on conversations with unnamed people who didn’t remember that number, that the final agreement’s penalty may have been “watered down.” 

In her column Sunday, Marcus called the document “constitutionally repugnant” and “laughably unconstitutional” and reported that an unspecified number of senior White House staff who initially hesitated to sign the NDAs ultimately did because, in her words, they’d concluded “the agreements would likely not be enforceable in any event.”

According to Marcus, senior White House staff were pressured by the President himself, then-White House chief of staff Reince Priebus and the White House Counsel’s Office to sign the documents.

One unnamed person who Marcus said signed a nondisclosure agreement told her the documents “were meant to be very similar to the ones that some of us signed during the campaign and during the transition.”

“I remember the president saying, ‘Has everybody signed a confidentiality agreement like they did during the campaign or we had at Trump Tower?’” the source continued.

The source added, referring to the time frame to which the documents applied: “It’s not meant to be constrained by the four years or eight years he’s president — or the four months or eight months somebody works there. It is meant to survive that.”

Marcus wrote that the draft agreement she’d seen defined relevant “confidential” information — information that the NDA asserted it covered — as “all nonpublic information I learn of or gain access to in the course of my official duties in the service of the United States Government on White House staff.”

Marcus said the White House never responded to multiple requests for comment. Representatives of the White House did not immediately respond to TPM’s questions Sunday. 

Read Ruth Marcus’ full column here. 

Introducing
The TPM Journalism Fund: A New Way To Support TPM
We're launching the TPM Journalism Fund as an additional way for readers and members to support TPM. Every dollar contributed goes toward:
  • -Hiring More Journalists
  • -Providing free memberships to those who cannot afford them
  • -Supporting independent, non-corporate journalism
Are you experiencing financial hardship?
Apply for a free community-supported membership
Comments
advertisement
Masthead Masthead
Founder & Editor-in-Chief:
Executive Editor:
Managing Editor:
Senior Editor:
Special Projects Editor:
Editor at Large:
General Counsel:
Publisher:
Head of Product:
Director of Technology:
Associate Publisher:
Front-End Developer:
Senior Designer:
SPECIAL DEAL FOR PAST TPM MEMBERS
40% OFF AN ANNUAL PRIME MEMBERSHIP
REJOIN FOR JUST $30