Should White House employees be required to sign NDAs? | The Tylt

Should White House employees be required to sign NDAs?

President Trump confirmed he requires all White House staff members to sign non-disclosure agreements, a huge divergence from government protocol. While many employees said they were required to sign NDAs before starting work at the White House, President Trump had been taciturn when asked about their existence. NDAs are used to maintain organizational security and privacy. Yet critics say government officials need to be able to speak publicly and cannot be bound by NDAs. What do you think?

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While there have been rumors of employees being required to sign NDAs in order to work for the Trump administration, the president has only recently confirmed their existence. After former senior advisor Omarosa Manigault Newman began her book tour, the president tweeted that "Wacky Omarosa already has a fully signed Non-Disclosure Agreement." The Washington Post confirmed the existence of Trump administration NDA.

Copies of Trump NDAs obtained by The Washington Post or described by current and former aides lay out breathtakingly broad prohibitions on behavior and appear to be drawn heavily from similar contracts used in the past by the Trump Organization, the president’s family firm.
Under one agreement from the 2016 campaign, signers promised not to “demean or disparage publicly” Trump, his company or any member of his family — and also not to assist any other politician exploring a federal or state office.
An agreement circulated in the White House last year barred signers from sharing any information they had learned in the building, according to several aides who signed the document.
And the agreement proposed to Manigault Newman after her firing from the White House would have forbidden her from releasing derogatory information not only about Trump and his family, but about Vice President Pence and his family as well.
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Non-disclosure agreements are highly unusual within the confines of the government. While there is a general understanding that government employees should act with discretion when discussing their jobs, rarely are they required to sign paperwork that would bind them to that standard. With the exception of top secret information, federal employees are typically at their liberty to talk about their jobs and experiences. Per The New York Times:

As stewards of the taxpayers, federal employees typically are not asked to muzzle themselves to protect reputations or insulate others from embarrassment, as is typical in confidentiality agreements that bind private citizens. They are obliged to respond to disclosure requests from members of Congress and federal agencies, among others. And they enjoy strong whistle-blower protections to safeguard their ability to speak out if they witness wrongdoing within the government.
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President Trump's long history of favoring strict NDAs has transferred to his new office. In April 2016, he told The Washington Post's reporters:

“I think they should. . . . And I don’t know, there could be some kind of a law that you can’t do this. But 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. I mean, I’ll be honest. And people would say, oh, that’s terrible, you’re taking away his right to free speech. Well, he’s going in.”
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The move to insist on all White House employees signing NDAs is not only a break from government protocol, it may not even be legal. Per The New York Times: 

“You can’t blanket wipe out speech, and you have to show there’s a compelling government purpose for doing so,” said Norm Eisen, the top ethics lawyer in former President Barack Obama’s White House Counsel’s Office.
“If they have taken even baby steps — much less what appear to be giant strides — into the area of muzzling the normal, permitted recollections about the nonclassified and nonconfidential aspects of White House service, then that’s going to trigger the First Amendment protection,” he said.
#SignNDAs

Yet Manigault Newman's behavior could be seen as an argument in favor of President Trump's NDA policy. Manigault Newman recorded and then publicly shared a conversation she had with chief of staff John Kelly in the White House Situation Room. The New York Times writes: 

The Situation Room is supposed to be devoid of personal electronic devices, which signs outside the room make clear. Former national security officials said it was not clear whether Ms. Manigault Newman had broken any laws, but she certainly violated the rules around what is supposed to be one of the most secure rooms in the capital.

While Manigault Newman merely shared audio of Kelly firing her, there could be concerns another employee could share much more sensitive information.

FINAL RESULTS
Politics
Should White House employees be required to sign NDAs?
#SignNDAs
A festive crown for the winner
#NoNDAs