Congressman Krishnamoorthi Reintroduces The No Disrupting Accountability (NDA) Act To President Trump’s Personal Non-Disclosure Agreements From Silencing White House Whistleblowers
WASHINGTON, DC — Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi yesterday reintroduced the No Disrupting Accountability (NDA) Act, which would prevent non-disclosure agreements from being used to prevent White House staffers from coming forward as whistleblowers if they witness wrongdoing. While the non-disclosure agreements the President has forced staffers to sign are already widely-regarded as unenforceable, the chilling effect of the associated legal and financial threats still have an impact.
“Congress has a duty to provide oversight over this administration, and protecting whistleblowers is a crucial part of that,” said Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi. “This legislation clarifies that any non-disclosure agreements signed by White House employees do not cover actions protected by federal whistleblower law, and ensures that those in the Administration with knowledge of wrongdoing will not be afraid to speak the truth.”
The introduction of the NDA Act follows Congressman Krishnamoorthi’s questioning of Michael Cohen last week on President Trump’s use of NDA’s as a means of silencing potential critics. A transcript of that exchange follows below:
Congressman Krishnamoorthi: Sir, as a former attorney you are familiar with legal documents known as non-disclosure agreements, or NDAs, is that right?
Michael Cohen: Yes.
Congressman Krishnamoorthi: Sir I am sure you know that NDAs properly written in scope can be reasonable in certain business contacts. But they can also be abused to create a chilling effect to silence people as we have seen in the MeToo Movement and in other places. Isn’t that right Mr. Cohen?
Michael Cohen: Yes
Congressman Krishnamoorthi: And Mr. Cohen, the Trump Organization used NDA’s extensively, isn’t that right?
Michael Cohen: That’s correct.
Congressman Krishnamoorthi: Mr. Cohen I am reading from a recent Washington Post article regarding the language in one of these types of NDAs where the terms were described as very broad. For instance, the terms “confidential information” was defined to be anything that quote “Mr. Trump insists remain private or confidential, including but not limited to any information with respect to the personal life, political affairs, and or business affairs of Mr. Trump or any family member.” Closed quote. Do those terms sound familiar to you?
Michael Cohen: I have seen that document.
Congressman Krishnamoorthi: In fact, there is a class action lawsuit filed this month by former Trump Campaign worker, Jessica Denson, that this NDA language is illegal because it is too broad, too vague, and would be used to retaliate against employees who complain of illegality or wrongdoing. Would you agree that in the use of these types of NDAs, with this type of language, and later when Donald Trump sought to enforce them, that he intended to prevent people from coming forward with claims of wrongdoing?
Michael Cohen: “Yes”
Congressman Krishnamoorthi: “Would you agree that the effect of the use of these NDAs and their enforcement was to have a chilling effect on people or silence them from coming forward?”
Michael Cohen: “I apologize, if you want to define chilling, I’m not sure…”
Congressman Krishnamoorthi: “That he would in using these NDAs or trying to enforce them would basically keep people silent”
Michael Cohen: “That was the goal.”