A House Democrat has now introduced a bill aimed at protecting White House whistleblowers.
Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-Ill.) said it would help staffers come forward, despite any binding nondisclosure agreements.
The bill is called the No Disrupting Accountability (NDA) Act. It comes after a report saying that President Trump required senior White House staffers to sign nondisclosure agreements promising not to share confidential information.
Krishnamoorthi said on Twitter that he introduced the legislation to “protect whistleblowers from these agreements.”
In a statement, he argued 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.”
He continued, “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. 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.”
Of course, there is already whistleblower laws on the books, that would protect a staffer that would come forward. In this day and age if Edward Snowden did what he did now he would be a hero to Democrats.
Some of the staffers were reportedly hesitant to sign the agreements. They did so, however, 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. According to the post, it included “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.”
A draft of the agreement indicated that 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 has been known to use nondisclosure agreements as a businessman. In an interview during his presidential campaign, he said that he believes federal employees should sign such agreements.
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Credit: The Hill