Arbitrator T. Andrew Brown said in his ruling the terms of the NDA were “highly problematic” because it did not adhere to typical legal standards. Brown went on to call the NDA “vague, indefinite and therefore void and unenforceable.”
“The Agreement effectively imposes on [Manigault Newman] an obligation to never say anything remotely critical of Mr. Trump, his family or his or his family members’ businesses for the rest of her life,” Brown said according to NBC News.
Trump’s campaign initially filed the arbitration complaint against Manigault-Newman alleging she was in breach of a 2016 NDA due to her 2018 book Unhinged: An Insider’s Account of the Trump White House. In the book, Manigault describes the former president as a racist and in mental decline.
Manigault-Newman was a three time contestant on The Apprentice, where she became close to Trump, stumping for him and following him to the White House after he was elected in 2016. Manigault quickly became one of his prominent Black supporters. However, the relationship soured less than a year after Trump was inaugurated and she was forced out, although she maintains she chose to leave.
Manigault wrote in her book that she did not sign an NDA for working in the White House. The Howard University graduate added within a day of leaving the White House, Trump’s daughter-in-law, Lara Trump offered her a $15,000 a month salary to work on his re-election campaign in exchange for signing an NDA, Manigault-Newman called “as harsh and restrictive as any I’d seen in all my years of television.”
According to Brown, the NDA was more about expressing negative opinions about Trump than giving away any actual information related to the administration.
“The statements do not disclose hard data such as internal polling results or donor financial information,” Brown wrote. “Rather, they are for the most part simply expressions of unflattering opinions, which are deemed ‘confidential information’ based solely upon the designation of Mr. Trump. This is exactly the kind of indefiniteness which New York courts do not allow to form the terms of a binding contract.”