Mar 21, 2018

White House NDAs were known to be unenforceable

President Donald Trump in the Roosevelt Room at the White House. Photo: Kevin Dietsch-Pool/Getty Images

Although the White House issued nondisclosure agreements to senior staff members last year, they known by those in the West Wing to be unenforceable, per the NYT. The Times report states that White House counsel Don McGahn had the documents written up to pacify President Trump, who believed the documents would stave off leaks from his administration.

Why they didn't matter: Beyond the fact that the documents didn't have any penalties — early drafts, as reported this weekend by WaPo, contained a $10 million fine — ethics and legal experts told the Times that they would vastly overstep free speech protections under the First Amendment. Ian Bassin, associate White House counsel under President Obama, reached a similar conclusion, tweeting that "beyond classified material and federal ethics standards on confidential info, WH staff work for the public."

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Navarro memos warning of mass coronavirus death circulated in January

Image from a memo to President Trump

In late January, President Trump's economic adviser Peter Navarro warned his White House colleagues the novel coronavirus could take more than half a million American lives and cost close to $6 trillion, according to memos obtained by Axios.

The state of play: By late February, Navarro was even more alarmed, and he warned his colleagues, in another memo, that up to two million Americans could die of the virus.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 2 hours ago - Health