Trump’s broad nondisclosure agreement was reportedly meant to appease him, and wasn’t actually enforceable

President Donald Trump signs an executive order in the Oval Office.

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President Donald Trump signs an executive order in the Oval Office.
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  • The White House counsel who created President Donald Trump’s nondisclosure agreement for staff members reportedly suggested the document was not legally binding.
  • The NDA imposed financial penalties, $10 million for each offense, for staff members who released unauthorized “confidential information.”
  • White House counsel Don McGahn privately told senior aides that the NDA was primarily drafted to appease Trump, who expressed dissatisfaction with embarrassing leaks coming from the White House.

The White House counsel who created President Donald Trump’s nondisclosure agreement for White House staff members reportedly suggested the document was not legally binding, The New York Times reported on Wednesday.

The NDA imposed financial penalties, $10 million for each offense, for staff members who released unauthorized “confidential information.” The agreement was said to remain in effect even after a staffer leaves the White House.

White House counsel Don McGahn privately told senior aides that the NDA was primarily drafted to appease Trump, and with the hope of preventing embarrassing leaks coming from the White House.

McGahn was also said to have made it clear to people who signed the document that it was not enforceable.

Some staff members reportedly resisted signing the document, but eventually gave in to pressure from then-White House chief of staff Reince Priebus.

According to one source familiar with the situation, Trump wanted to make staff members think twice about spilling insider details on his administration by making them think they would be “on the hook for some serious damages,” The Washington Post, which first reported on the existence of the NDA, reported.

It’s not entirely clear how effective an NDA would be in the White House. Federal government employees, to some degree, can be bound by rules that govern how internal communications are recorded and archived. Some White House staffers have simply talked to reporters on background, or off the record to avoid scrutiny.

Trump said in an interview in 2016 that if he were to be elected president, he would want all high-level federal employees to sign NDAs.

“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,” Trump told The Post.