When Omarosa Manigault Newman, a former aid in Donald Trump’s White House, wrote a book about her experiences, the former president was more than disappointed. In fact, the Republican sued his former ally, insisting she’d signed a nondisclosure agreement during the 2016 campaign, and the book violated its terms.
Trump’s lawsuit failed, and as The New York Times reported, he also lost a related case yesterday.
A court arbitrator has ordered former President Donald J. Trump’s presidential campaign to pay nearly $1.3 million in legal fees to Omarosa Manigault Newman, the former “Apprentice” star, White House aide and author of the first tell-all book about the Trump White House. The award, handed down on Tuesday, concludes a protracted legal fight....
Manigault Newman’s lawyer told the newspaper that the size of the award “hopefully will send a message that weaponized litigation will not be tolerated and empower other lawyers to stand up and fight.”
At face value, this is a costly setback for the former president and his political operation. But the problem for Team Trump is not just that it lost a non-disclosure case; the problem is that it keeps losing non-disclosure cases.
Consider the case of former Trump campaign worker Alva Johnson, who alleged a few years ago that in August 2016, the then-candidate grabbed her at a campaign stop and kissed her on the mouth against her will. After she sued, the Republican filed an arbitration complaint against her, claiming Johnson had violated a non-disclosure agreement by making the allegations.
That didn’t work: Just last month, the former president’s campaign was ordered to pay more than $300,000 in legal fees and expenses to the former employee. Victor Bianchini, the retired federal judge who adjudicated the arbitration complaint, concluded that the Trump campaign “was invested in silencing other employees that were terminated or had somehow criticized the candidate in other ways.”
He added that one of the underlying points of the campaign’s challenge was “curtailing any criticism of the candidate.”
As we discussed soon after, the larger pattern is striking: Team Trump has also lost an effort to enforce a non-disclosure agreement against a different former campaign worker named Jessica Denson. What’s more, Team Trump’s non-disclosure case against Stephanie Winston-Wolkoff didn’t work out well, and neither did the case against Mary Trump.
The message to others seems unmistakable: There may be others holding back because they signed an NDA and fear the consequences of breaking it. The more Team Trump’s attempts to enforce these agreements fall short, the less incentive his former employees have to remain silent.
Update: The link referring to the Jessica Denson case has been swapped out for an improved report.