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Cummings, Nadler Request Documents about Gag Orders White House Staff Reportedly Ordered to Sign

Mar 20, 2018
Press Release

Cummings, Nadler Request Documents about

Gag Orders White House Staff Reportedly Ordered to Sign

 

Washington, D.C. (March 20, 2018) – Today, Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, the Ranking Member of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, and Rep. Jerrold Nadler, the Ranking Member of the House Committee on the Judiciary, sent a letter to White House Chief of Staff John Kelly requesting documents relating to gag orders White House staff have reportedly been ordered to sign.

Two days ago, the Washington Post reported that in early 2017, at the request of President Donald Trump, senior White House staff members were asked to sign agreements pledging not to disclose confidential information and potentially subjecting them to monetary damages for any violation.  The report stated that some employees “balked at first but, pressed by then-Chief of Staff Reince Priebus and the White House Counsel’s Office, ultimately complied.”  According to the report, “this confidentiality pledge would extend not only after an aide’s White House service but also beyond the Trump presidency.”  

“If true, this report raises numerous concerns,” the Ranking Members wrote. “These confidentiality agreements could discourage White House employees from cooperating with the ongoing investigation by Special Counsel Robert Mueller.  The agreements could chill employees from disclosing violations of law, waste, fraud, and abuse to Congress.  The agreements may also be inconsistent with the First Amendment to the Constitution and in violation of other federal laws, including the Consolidated Appropriations Act.”

On January 26, 2017, following news reports that the Trump Administration had imposed gag orders on federal employees that prevented them from communicating with Congress, Ranking Member Cummings wrote with Energy and Commerce Committee Ranking Member Pallone to White House Counsel Donald McGahn recommending that the President issue an official statement making clear that all federal employees have the right to communicate with Congress and will not be silenced or retaliated against for their disclosures.  The White House never responded to say it communicated that message to Administration employees. 

Cummings and Nadler wrote: “Instead, if this report is true, President Trump may have done just the opposite by threatening to fine employees for disclosing information to Congress, Inspectors General, the Government Accountability Office, or anyone else.”

In today’s letter, Cummings and Nadler requested that Kelly produce, by April 3, 2018, any non-disclosure or confidentiality agreements; any documents related to those agreements; any information provided to federal employees about communications with Congress; and any documents or communications identifying who in the White House signed a non-disclosure or confidentiality agreement.

Click here to read today’s letter.

115th Congress