The Washington Post’s Ruth Marcus recently published an opinion piece about President Donald Trump having his White House staff sign non-disclosure agreements with threats of $10 million dollar punitive fines. While the those employed at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue leak like a sieve, leading to one embarrassing behind-the-scenes story after another across the print and digital media landscape, the tell-all books have not materialized.
While the validity of these NDAs is a constitutionally-dubious proposition considering that government officials are subject to Freedom of Information requests, among other things, it clearly seems to have had its desired effect. Most would have expected book publishing deals surfacing with former White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus and Press Secretary Sean Spicer, but that has not happened. Maybe personal loyalty is at the heart of their decision or their cooperation with Special Counsel Robert Mueller has rendered the NDAs a non-issue at this point.
The true test will be what happens with Omarosa Manigault, who never misses an opportunity to monetize her fame. Granted she hasn’t been out of the White House long, but a kiss-and-tell book loses its potency the more time elapses. Is anyone really going to care about the health of the Donald and Melania Trump marriage, or the back-stabbing and back-biting that occurred in the volatile White House in 2019 when the Mueller report has likely to have been issued? Time is running short for these types of books to be issued.
The final question is whether the Steve Bannon mindset about the future holds true for others. His work with Michael Wolff on “Fire and Fury” was a showstopper. Clearly, Bannon made a calculated risk and assumed that the political landscape would tolerate a lot of Trump bashing. He was wrong, but others might be making a similar calculation. After all, Trump might have a lot more pressing matters to worry about (e.g. indictments, impeachments, assets forfeiture, etc.) than whether a former White House aide decides to become an author.
J.H. Norton is a communications professional, life-long Democrat, and married father of two boys living in Washington, D.C.