TRUMP: NDA ENFORCEMENT / LITIGATION INVOLVING TRUMP (STEVE BANNON)
On August 16, 2016, Trump announced that Bannon had joined the campaign as its new CEO. Trump created the role of “chief strategist and senior counselor to the president” for Bannon after their electoral win. However, Bannon was forced to resign from his position at the White House on Aug. 18, 2017, nearly seven months into the administration.
In January of 2018, Trump attacked Steve Bannon saying:
Steve Bannon has nothing to do with me or my presidency. When he was fired, he not only lost his job, he lost his mind. Steve was a staffer who worked for me after I had already won the nomination by defeating seventeen candidates, often described as the most talented field ever assembled in the Republican Party.
President Trump’s attack of Steve Bannon was allegedly followed by a letter in which a Trump attorney accused the president’s former campaign chief of violating a nondisclosure agreement by participating in Michael Wolff’s book, Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House. Wolff claims his book is based on more than 200 interviews with Bannon and other top Trump advisers.
The President’s chief NDA lawyer, Charles Harder, rebuked Bannon, saying:
You have breached the agreement by, among other things, communicating with author Michael Wolff about Mr. Trump, his family members, and the company, disclosing confidential information to Mr. Wolff, and making disparaging statements and in some cases outright defamatory statements to Mr. Wolff about Mr. Trump, his family members, and the company,” lawyer Charles Harder wrote, raising the specter of a lawsuit.
Harder’s letter appears to refer to this portion of the NDA:
During the term of your service and at all times thereafter, you hereby promise and agree not to demean or disparage publicly the company, Mr. Trump, any Trump company, any family member, or any family member company.
Bannon clearly was aggressive when referring to Trump family members, allegedly telling Wolff that Ivanka Trump is “dumb as a brick” and that Donald Trump Jr.’s 2016 meeting with a Kremlin-linked attorney was “treasonous” and “unpatriotic.”
Per CNBC, President Donald Trump‘s re-election campaign allegedly paid $93,000 to Harder’s law firm to fight against Michael Wolff’s book and Bannon’s quotes. The article claims Harder received two payments for its efforts on Trump’s behalf. One payment of $25,000 was made in January and another for just over $68,000 was made in February, according to the latest Federal Election Commission filings from the Trump campaign. CNBC justifiably drew the conclusion that this, “signals that the Trump campaign is open to spending donors’ money to fight what some might see as the president’s own personal legal battles.”
After the threat, Bannon repeatedly complimented Trump publicly. Trump took notice of the compliments, saying, “I don’t know, he called me a great man last night, so, you know, he obviously changed his tune pretty quick.” It is unknown if an arbitration action was instituted.
Trump’s lawyer, Harder, followed up on his Bannon cease-and-desist letter with a similar note to Wolff and his publisher, warning that “your publication of the false/baseless statements about Mr. Trump gives rises to, among other claims, defamation by libel.”
It is unknown how this matter ultimately resolved.
Non Disclosure Agreement / Non Disparage Agreement:
Bannon clearly signed the subject non-disclosure agreement at some point.
Selective Enforcement? Trump allegedly said it himself, “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.” He uses NDA’s to regulate speech. Its limits will be tested.
Known Legal Action of Some Sort:
- Summer Zervos
- Jessica Denson
- Sam Nunberg
- Cliff Sims
- Steve Bannon
- Karen McDougal
- Stormy Daniels
- Omarosa Manigault-Newman (no comment)
- David Bossie (wrote book, no enforcement)
- Corey Lewandowski (wrote book, no enforcement)
- Anthony Scaramucci (wrote book, denied existence of NDA, no enforcement)
- Sean Spicer (wrote book, no enforcement)
More Generally (coming soon):
- Post White House Service Agreements
- White House / Government Service Agreements
- Donald J. Trump For President, Inc NDAs
- Other Campaign Related NDAs
- NDAs related to Relationships with Women
- NDAs for Apprentice
- NDAs for Other Businesses
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