Former Trump campaign and White House aide Cliff Sims released a book, Team of Vipers: My 500 Extraordinary Days in the Trump White House.
By admission, Mr. Sims was hired by the Trump Campaign in September 2016, to work as a Communications Advisor. Subsequent to his hiring and also by admission, Sims signed an NDA that “prohibits the disclosure of ‘confidential’ information or the disparagement of the Trump Campaign, President Trump, or his family.” Thereafter, from January 20, 2017, to May 2018, Sims was a federal employee serving as a Special Assistant to the President.
In his interviews, Sims tells stories about working for the Campaign, including a rather detailed story of the moments leading up to Donald J. Trump’s election.
When asked if he had signed the NDA / Agreement, he surprisingly laughed it off and dismissed it on CNN. See top video to the right.
Trump bashed Sims’ book in a Jan. 29 tweet, writing, “A low level staffer that I hardly knew named Cliff Sims wrote yet another boring book based on made up stories and fiction. He pretended to be an insider when in fact he was nothing more than a gofer. He signed a non-disclosure agreement. He is a mess!” The tweet was posted while Sims was being interviewed on CNN. See bottom video to the right.
Despite the supposed confidentiality of arbitration, Team Trump posted that an action was filed against Sims. Michael Glassner, the Trump Campaign Chief Operating Officer, tweeted: “The Trump campaign is preparing to file suit against Cliff Sims for violating our NDA.” See https://twitter.com/michaelglassner/status/1090249001746747392 (last accessed February 10, 2019). Sims has confirmed in legal pleadings that an arbitration action is pending against him.
Sims’s filed a lawsuit in DC Federal Court against Trump “in his official capacity as President.” According to the lawsuit, “The Demand for Arbitration seeks monetary damages, as well as the return of all information and materials encompassing Mr. Sims’ tenure in the White House and to enjoin Mr. Sims from making “disparaging statements” or commenting further regarding “confidential” information.” Interestingly, the Sims lawsuit claims, “The Arbitration proceeding specifically and solely refers to substantive matters that took place while Mr. Sims was a federal employee serving in the White House.” Sims does not seek to intervene, interfere or otherwise stop the arbitration proceedings.
Meanwhile, Sims seeks the entry of a declaratory judgment, “declaring that the Defendants may not enforce, whether directly or through non-U.S. Government cutouts, any nondisclosure agreements that seek to unconstitutionally infringe upon his First Amendment rights” and damages.”
Sims further claims, “The USGOVT is seeking to impose civil liability against Mr. Sims through application of NDAs that apply to information Mr. Sims learned solely during his federal service.”
The word “solely” may be misplaced. It is likely only a matter of time before the Trump Campaign finds the statements Sims made that were solely related to the Campaign to keep itself in Arbitration if it has not. However, the argument about federal service is excellent and on point.
Non Disclosure Agreement / Non Disparage Agreement:
Same was not filed, but has been admitted to exist by both sides.
Sims’s lawyers are correct. White House tenure / government statements are not governed by this or any prior NDA / Agreement with the Campaign. They are subject to collateral attack. This case will be litigated on both fronts and we’d expect some of the same motions and briefs filed in Denson to be filed here. The battle has just begun.