Cliff Sims, the former White House communications aide who wrote an insider account of life working for President Trump, is suing the president in his official capacity, alleging that he used his campaign organization as a “cutout” to improperly seek retribution against former employees and keep them from invoking their First Amendment rights.
Mr. Sims was a White House aide from the beginning of the administration. But it was the campaign organization that filed an arbitration claim against him last week, accusing him of violating the nondisclosure agreement he signed with it during the 2016 presidential race with the publication of his book, “Team of Vipers,”last month.
The White House had dozens of people sign such agreements at the beginning of the president’s term. But those agreements are widely seen as likely unenforceable. In the suit, Mr. Sims says he does not recall whether he signed one when he came to the White House.
Mr. Sims’s lawsuit alleges that Mr. Trump “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.”
Mr. Trump was slow to react to “Team of Vipers.” But the president became increasingly angry about the book, which confirmed much of the real-time reporting about chaos at the White House and which included some less-than-flattering anecdotes about the president.
“A low level staffer that I hardly knew named Cliff Sims wrote yet another boring book based on made up stories and fiction,” Mr. Trump tweeted at one point. “He pretended to be an insider when in fact he was nothing more than a gofer.”
SOURCE: Maggie Haberman and Annie Karni
The New York Times