President Donald Trump reportedly made senior White House staff sign punitive non-disclosure agreements early in his presidency to stem the flow of leaks to the media, a move his critics argue is both unconstitutional and unethical.
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.
The Associated Press reported in June 2016 that "Trump requires almost everyone to sign legally binding nondisclosure agreements prohibiting them from releasing any confidential or disparaging information about the real estate mogul, his family or his companies". While aides may normally be subject to maintain confidentiality on classified matters or attorney-client privilege, the NDAs appear to be unprecedented in USA government history.
"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.
It's well-known that almost everyone in Donald Trump's orbit has to sign a nondisclosure agreement, from business associates, to campaign employees, to women he may or may not have had an affair with.
When Steve Bannon was sacked earlier this year, a full year into Trump's presidency, it was widely reported he had signed a written confidentiality and non-disparagement agreement.
"The idea of having some kind of economic penalty is an outrageous effort to limit and chill speech", Katz said.
A draft of the agreement penalized staffers $10 million, to be paid to the federal government, for sharing confidential information.
Language in the draft copy reportedly ordered staffers to pay $10 million to the federal government for each piece of confidential information they shared.
The document: "I understand that the United States Government or, upon completion of the term (s) of Mr. Donald J. Trump, an authorized representative of Mr. Trump, may seek any remedy available to enforce this Agreement including, but not limited to, application for a court order prohibiting disclosure of information in breach of this Agreement".
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