Trump says he's suing ‘various people' over confidentiality agreements

Omarosa Manigault Newman, Trump tweets

By Veronica Stracqualursi and Pamela Brown, CNN
Copyright 2019 CNN

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WASHINGTON (CNN) - President Donald Trump claimed he's suing "various people" who worked for him for violating their confidentiality agreements -- a threat he's often made -- after Thursday's departure of Madeleine Westerhout, one of his longtime aides.

Trump said Saturday that he sued several individuals, including his former campaign aide and White House official Omarosa Manigault Newman, who published a tell-all book last year about her time working for Trump.

"Yes, I am currently suing various people for violating their confidentiality agreements," Trump wrote on Twitter Saturday. "Disgusting and foul mouthed Omarosa is one. I gave her every break, despite the fact that she was despised by everyone, and she went for some cheap money from a book. Numerous others also!"

CNN has reached out to the White House for comment.

When asked about the President's tweet Saturday that he is "suing various people for violating their confidentiality agreements," a person familiar with the matter says there are several "legal proceedings" dating back to Trump's 2016 presidential campaign but would not specify how many. The source noted that if there aren't public lawsuits, they are arbitration proceedings.

Trump's campaign filed for arbitration last August against Manigault Newman, alleging she breached a 2016 nondisclosure agreement with her book "Unhinged."

The President's attack against Manigault Newman followed a thinly veiled warning to Westerhout, his former staffer who was forced to resign Thursday after sharing intimate details about the President's family during an off-the-record dinner with reporters, according to multiple sources.

Westerhout was one of the chief gatekeepers to the President as his personal assistant with a desk right outside the Oval Office. The New York Times first reported the news of Westerhout's departure.

"While Madeleine Westerhout has a fully enforceable confidentiality agreement, she is a very good person and I don't think there would ever be reason to use it," Trump wrote on Twitter Saturday.

The source told CNN that Westerhout had a non-disclosure agreement from the presidential transition, but noted there could be "issues," saying the question is whether such an agreement can be enforced against a federal employee.

Early in his presidency, Trump had his White House staff sign non-disclosure agreements -- similar to what he required from his Trump Organization employees. The document, however, was a watered-down, unenforceable version of a nondisclosure agreement, with its general premise that employees should not profit off confidential West Wing information, CNN reported last year. Norm Eisen, who served as the chief ethics lawyer in the Obama administration, told CNN at the time that the courts have long recognized that apart from classified information, government employees have a First Amendment right to speak.

Trump has filed arbitration action against a few other former aides who have disclosed details about working for him.

Trump's campaign in January filed an arbitration claim against Cliff Sims, another former White House aide who wrote a candid account of a chaotic White House released that month.

Sims, in turn, sued the President to stop him from "silencing" Sims as he promoted his book. Sims sought an injunction against the nondisclosure agreements Trump had him agree to when he worked at the White House. The case was placed on hold in August pending an appeal court's decision.

During the 2016 campaign, Trump sought $10 million from his former campaign aide Sam Nunberg, who was fired in 2015, accusing Nunberg of violating his confidentiality agreement. Nunberg "amicably" settled the arbitration claim with Trump in August 2016, CNN reported.

Less than three weeks before the election, Trump threatened to file a lawsuit against the women who have made allegations against him ranging from sexual harassment and assault to lewd behavior.

Trump has vehemently denied all of the allegations the women made against him. He has yet to file suit.

CNN's Kaitlan Collins, Nikki Carvajal, Betsy Klein, Kate Sullivan, and Jeremy Diamond contributed to this report.

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