Attorney Joanna Friedman was recently asked by Government Executive to help parse the proposed
nondisclosure agreement policies of GOP presidential candidate Donald
Trump. In a
Washington Post interview this month, Trump said he would have federal employees under
his presidency sign nondisclosure agreements. The move, he explained,
would prevent any federal employees to move on from their position and
later write "tell-all" material (books, articles, etc.) based
on their work experience.
“I think they should [sign them]," Trump said, "You 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." Trump went on to explain that he had "many thousands"
of employees of his private businesses and that all of them has signed
a confidentiality agreement.
Federal employment attorney Joanna Friedman told
Government Executive, however, that this kind of policy could become legally sensitive. Currently,
only federal employees in the intelligence sector sign nondisclosure agreements
concerning disclosing classified information and are usually only attributed
to other federal employees when there is a dispute of some kind, such
as a lawsuit, and a settlement agreement requires such a provision.
However, Attorney Friedman did note that times are changing. "You
typically will not be signing a non-disclosure agreement in the federal
sector, though I suspect in this day and age of social media, federal
agencies are starting to come up with internal regulations," she
said. "“It’s not such a hard stretch from that to being
precluded from writing a book dealing with your workplace, but that does
start to get into First Amendment rights."
When it came to the First Amendment, Trump had his own take on his nondisclosure
policy and why there has been little reporting on his employees' personal
accounts of working for his companies. "People would say, oh, that’s
terrible, you’re taking away his right to free speech. Well... I
would say... I do have nondisclosure deals. That’s why you don’t
You can read all of "Trump Wants Feds to Sign Nondisclosure Agreements" at the
Government Executive website.