Dem introduces bill to protect White House whistleblowers
A House Democrat has introduced a bill to protect White House whistleblowers, saying it would help staffers come forward despite any binding nondisclosure agreements.
The bill, called the No Disrupting Accountability (NDA) Act, comes after a report that President Trump required senior White House staffers to sign nondisclosure agreements promising not to share confidential information at the risk of penalty.
Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-Ill.) said on Twitter he introduced the legislation to “protect whistleblowers from these agreements.”
He argued in a statement that the nondisclosure agreements signed by White House staffers “could prevent them from alerting the public to illegal or unethical conduct in the White House.”
“Even though these agreements would likely prove unenforceable, the threat of legal retribution and costly court battles could have a chilling effect on the public’s knowledge of wrongdoing,” he said.
“My legislation would clarify that any non-disclosure agreements signed by White House employees do not cover actions protected by federal whistleblower law.”
“This bill will ensure that White House officials with knowledge of malfeasance will not be afraid to come forward,” he said.
In response to reports of President Trump forcing top White House officials to sign non-disclosure agreements, I've introduced the No Disrupting Accountability (NDA) Act to protect whistleblowers from these agreements. https://t.co/JVsYKG03Gw pic.twitter.com/yLw0F9asFB
— Raja Krishnamoorthi (@CongressmanRaja) March 21, 2018
The Washington Post reported over the weekend that White House staffers were required to sign nondisclosure agreements during the early months of Trump’s presidency.
Some of the staffers were reportedly hesitant to sign the agreements, but did so after pressure from then-chief of staff Reince Priebus and the White House counsel.
The agreement blocked the sharing of confidential information in any form, including “the publication of works of fiction that contain any mention of the operations of the White House, federal agencies, foreign governments, or other entities interacting with the United States Government that is based on confidential information,” according to the Post.
A draft of the agreement indicated it would seek to penalize staffers $10 million for sharing confidential information, with the money going to the federal government. The newspaper noted that the penalty figure was likely lowered in final agreements.
Trump, who famously used nondisclosure agreements as a businessman, said in an interview during his presidential campaign that he believes federal employees should sign such agreements.
Author: Rebecca Savransky