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Judge rules Trump campaign's nondisclosure agreement is invalid

The Hill logo The Hill 3/31/2021 Joseph Choi
Donald Trump holding a microphone: Judge rules Trump campaign's nondisclosure agreement is invalid © Getty Images Judge rules Trump campaign's nondisclosure agreement is invalid

A federal judge on Tuesday ruled that a nondisclosure agreement (NDA) that employees on former President Trump's 2016 campaign had to sign is unenforceable.

U.S. District Judge Paul Gardephe, a George W. Bush appointee, found that the language of the far-reaching contract was so vague that it was invalid under New York contract law, Politico reports.

"The vagueness and breadth of the provision is such that a Campaign employee would have no way of what may be disclosed, and, accordingly, Campaign employees are not free to speak about anything concerning the Campaign," Gardephe wrote in his decision. "The non-disclosure provision is thus much broader than what the Campaign asserts is necessary to protect its legitimate interests, and, therefore, is not reasonable."

Gardephe also found fault in the non-disparagement clause of the agreement, Politico reports, writing that the contract showed the Trump campaign did not operate "in good faith."

"The evidence before the Court instead demonstrates that the Campaign has repeatedly sought to enforce the non-disclosure and non-disparagement provisions to suppress speech that it finds detrimental to its interests," Gardephe added.

The outlet notes that the Trump campaign had asked Gardephe to edit the provisions in the contract if he found them unenforceable, but the judge declined to do so.

The Hill has reached out to Trump's office for comment on the ruling.

The ruling by Gardephe was issued in a case brought by Jessica Denson, a Hispanic outreach director on Trump's 2016 campaign. Denson is accusing the campaign of sex discrimination, Politico reports.

"I'm overjoyed," Denson told Politico, regarding Gardephe's ruling. "This president ... former president spent all four years aspiring to autocracy while claiming that he was champion of freedom and free speech. ... There's many people out there who have seen cases like mine and were terrified to speak out."

However, a representative for Trump disagreed with the ruling.

"We believe the court reached the wrong decision and President Trump's lawyers are examining all potential appeals," an unnamed aide to Trump told Politico.

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