On the heels of former Trump campaign and White House aide Omarosa Manigault Newman saying she’s heard tape of President Trump using the N-word, Trump’s allies have taken to the cable news networks to defend his reputation.
But there’s one big problem — because they’ve signed non-disclosure agreements (NDAs), even if they have heard Trump using a racial slur, they’re legally prohibited from saying so.
Omarosa says she isn’t in possession of a recording of Trump using the N-word, but she has produced a recording of an October 2016 call in which top Trump campaign officials seemingly strategized about how to spin a tape of Trump using the N-word on the set of The Apprentice.
One of the officials on that tape is former Trump campaign spokesperson Katrina Pierson. On it, Pierson — who now works for Trump’s 2020 campaign — can be heard saying of Trump’s alleged N-bomb, “I am trying to find out at least what context it was used in to help us maybe try to figure out a way to spin it.”
“He said it,” Pierson adds. “He is embarrassed.”
As ThinkProgress detailed on Tuesday, Pierson has already gotten caught lying about the tape. During a Tuesday evening appearance on Erin Burnett’s CNN show, she tried to explain away her contradicting statements by insisting that when she said Trump “said it,” she was just trying to placate Omarosa and keep the call moving, not in fact confirm that Trump used a racial slur.
At the end of the interview, Burnett asked Pierson, “Did you ever sign an NDA with Trump?”
“Yes I did, actually,” Pierson replied.
“So basically if you had heard him say the N-word, you wouldn’t tell me about it anyway?” Burnett followed up.
“No. I’m telling you the truth,” Pierson insisted. “I’m not up here to lie. I’m telling you the absolute truth, that I did sign an NDA with the campaign, because everybody signed an NDA with the campaign. I wouldn’t come on this program as a black woman, Erin, and tell you that someone didn’t say a derogatory term when they did, I would just leave the campaign. It’s that simple.”
But even if Pierson did choose to leave the campaign over Trump’s use of a racial slur — Omarosa’s tape of the October 2016 call indicates she was in fact primarily concerned about spinning it — the NDA she signed would prohibit her from publicly speaking out about it.
This point was highlighted hours earlier during MSNBC’s interview of another Trump 2020 spokesperson, Marc Lotter.
Regarding the NDA he signed to work for Trump, MSNBC’s Katy Tur asked Lotter, “If you are not allowed legally to disparage the president or his family or anything that they have to do with, any company that they have or asset that they have, why can we believe anything that you say?”
Lotter replied by arguing that if he ever felt he was in a position that compromised his integrity, “then I wouldn’t work for that candidate any longer, and that’s just not something I’ve come across.”
Tur pressed the issue. “Even if you wouldn’t work for them any longer — say something happened while you were there that horrified you or appalled you or you felt was illegal — you can’t talk about it,” she pointed out. “So again, why should we trust anything you say, when you are legally bound to say good things about the person you’re coming on to talk about?”
Lotter replied by noting that “if there was something that wrote to a criminal level,” his NDA wouldn’t prevent him from communicating with “the proper authorities.”
Saying the N-word, however, is not a crime.
CNN reports that the Trump campaign is using the NDA Omarosa signed while working with the Trump campaign in 2016 to try and silence her through arbitration proceedings.
The Washington Post, meanwhile, reports that copies of Trump NDAs that have either been given or described to its reporters “lay out breathtakingly broad prohibitions on behavior and appear to be drawn heavily from similar contracts used in the past by the Trump Organization, the president’s family firm.”
“Under one agreement from the 2016 campaign, signers promised not to ‘demean or disparage publicly’ Trump, his company or any member of his family — and also not to assist any other politician exploring a federal or state office,” the Post adds. “An agreement circulated in the White House last year barred signers from sharing any information they had learned in the building, according to several aides who signed the document.”