Former Trump campaign and White House aide Cliff Sims just released Team of Vipers: My 500 Extraordinary Days in the Trump White House, a new tell-all book about his experiences working for the president, and President Donald Trump isn’t too happy about it. First, Trump himself tweeted about Sims, calling him a “low level staffer that I hardly knew,” and a “gofer” who based his book on “stories and fiction.” Trump also pointed out that Sims signed a non-disclosure agreement, which supposedly was meant to prevent this sort of thing. Eighteen minutes later, Trump campaign COO Michael Glassner said that the campaign is getting ready to sue Sims for violating the NDA.
The Trump campaign is preparing to file suit against Cliff Sims for violating our NDA. https://t.co/Xl1N95fPkH
— Michael Glassner (@michaelglassner) January 29, 2019
Such a lawsuit could have some serious issues, according to national security attorneys Mark Zaid and Brad Moss.
Zaid noted in a tweet that an NDA that is meant to apply to Sims after Trump’s inauguration would be “legally unenforceable,” except when it comes to classified information.
Moss, who is Zaid’s law partner, explained in an email to Law&Crime that while a campaign NDA could be fine if they were only looking to enforce it regarding Sims’ experiences before becoming a federal employee, they’d have trouble enforcing it when it comes to Sims’ work as a White House staffer.
“If the campaign is trying to impose their NDA upon Sims for disclosures tied to his time in the White House, they’re going to run into the brick wall of established precedent on the subject,” Moss said. “They would in effect be arguing that the court should allow a president’s campaign to censor a former federal employee in a way that the government is barred from doing. Good luck with that argument.”
Moss was referring to how the government itself would not be able to keep federal workers from talking about their work due to First Amendment issues and Supreme Court decisions regarding restrictions on federal employees’ speech.
Zaid and Moss have offered to represent Sims should he face a lawsuit, with Zaid saying they would do it pro bono.
— Mark S. Zaid (@MarkSZaidEsq) January 29, 2019
[Image via MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images.]
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