Former President Donald Trump cannot enforce a nondisclosure agreement with former confidant Omarosa Manigault Newman, an arbitrator ruled late last week.
The arbitrator, Andrew Brown, wrote that the terms of the agreement were “vague, indefinite, and therefore void and unenforceable.”
The agreement “effectively imposes on Respondent an obligation to never say anything remotely critical of Mr. Trump, his family or his family members’ businesses for the rest of her life,” Brown wrote in the decision dated Sept. 24.
“Such a burden is certainly unreasonable.”
Trump, via his campaign organization, targeted Manigault Newman after she wrote a confessional book about her tenure serving in the White House as communications director for the Office of the Public Liaison. She had been a mainstay in Trump’s orbit for years before he entered politics, first as a contestant on “The Apprentice” TV show and later as an executive in his eponymous company.
“Donald has used this type of vexatious litigation to intimidate, harass and bully for years! Finally the bully has met his match!” she said in a statement.
Brown dismissed the Trump campaign’s argument that Manigault Newman — commonly referred to by her first name — revealed confidential information in her book and other public statements.
“The statements do not disclose hard data such as internal polling results or donor financial information. Rather, they are for the most part simply expressions of unflattering opinions, which are deemed ‘confidential information’ based solely upon the designation of Mr. Trump,” he wrote.
Trump has long wielded nondisclosure agreements as a cudgel against embarrassing revelations from disaffected associates, both in his business and political operations. However they have struggled to hold up under legal scrutiny, given their often broad scope.
Earlier this year a federal judge ruled that one such NDA was so sweepingly vague as to be unenforceable under New York state law amid a dispute with Trump’s former Hispanic outreach director, Jessica Denson, who had accused the campaign of sex discrimination in separate litigation.
The Trump campaign had tried to distinguish between Denson’s case and Manigault Newman’s, though the arbitrator found that argument unconvincing as Trump's side "offers no basis for drawing this distinction."
"While the decision of the Denson case is not binding precedent, the Arbitator finds it persuasive and in line with principles of New York contract law," Brown wrote in his ruling.
Through a spokesperson, Trump unleashed a personal attack on Manigault Newman that did not address the substance of the case.
"I gave Omarosa three attempts at The Apprentice and she failed," the former president said. "At her desperate request I gave her an attempt at the White House and she failed there too, people truly hated her. At least now I don’t have to let her fail anymore."
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