Former Trump campaign and White House aide Omarosa Manigault Newman has defeated an arbitration case brought against her by the Trump campaign, which alleged that she had violated a non-disclosure agreement with public comments and a book critical of former President Donald Trump.
In a summary judgment granted Monday in Manigault Newman’s favor, the arbiter rejected the Trump campaign’s claims, saying the NDA was “overbroad, indefinite, and unreasonable.” The decision marks a rare instance of finality and financial consequence in a legal fight picked by Trump against one of his personal or political foes.
Arbiter T. Andrew Brown of the American Arbitration Association said in the judgment that the NDA’s terms went “far beyond what would be reasonably expected to protect” the Trump campaign’s interests.
The arbiter said the agreement effectively imposed on Manigault Newman “an obligation to never say anything remotely critical of Mr. Trump, his family, or his or family members’ businesses, for the rest of her life.”
“Such a burden is certainly unreasonable,” the judgment said.
The arbiter pointed to the decision in a federal court case in which another former Trump campaign staffer, Jessica Denson, was seeking a ruling declaring her campaign NDA unenforceable. In that case, a federal judge held in March that certain provisions of the NDA were unenforceable.
The ruling in Denson’s case was not binding precedent, the arbiter in the Manigault Newman case noted, but nonetheless was “persuasive and in line with principles of New York contract law.”
The Trump campaign filed the lawsuit in arbitration in August 2018, on the same day of the release of Manigault Newman’s book “Unhinged: An Insiders Account of the Trump White House,” her behind-the-scenes look at working for Trump. The summary judgment said that because Manigault Newman prevailed in the arbitration case, she could now pursue attorneys’ fees.
“Clearly, I am very happy with this ruling,” Manigault Newman said in a statement. “Donald has used this type of vexatious litigation to intimidate, harass and bully for years! Finally, the bully has met his match!”
In a statement provided to CNN by Trump’s spokesperson, the former President did not weigh in on the merits of the decision, but criticized Manigault Newman personally.
“Nobody in her life has done more for Omarosa than a man named Donald Trump,” he said. “Unfortunately, like certain others, she forgot all about that – which is fine with me!”
The book by Manigault Newman, who was previously best known for her polarizing character on NBC’s “The Apprentice,” painted a damning portrait of the former President. In it, she describes a mentally waning, racist and lewd, charismatic but emotionally abusive, man overseeing a conniving cast of aides and family members whose varied goals rarely include the betterment of the nation.
Manigault Newman insists her firing from the White House was because she knew too much about a possible audio recording of Trump uttering a racial epithet, which she claims was the subject of deep consternation among campaign – and later White House – aides. Manigault Newman provides no proof of the alleged recording.
She writes she turned down an offer from Trump’s daughter-in-law to sign a nondisclosure agreement in exchange for a job on the President’s reelection campaign paying $15,000 per month. The book did not include a copy of the nondisclosure agreement, but The Washington Post had said it reviewed it.
Among other things, Manigault Newman, who was in charge of Trump’s African American outreach, also recounts instances that made her rethink her loyalties to the President and the administration, particularly in the wake of the White supremacist rally in Charlottesville in August 2017.
“Donald Trump, who would attack civil rights icons and professional athletes, who would go after grieving black widows, who would say there were good people on both sides, who endorsed an accused child molester; Donald Trump, and his decisions and his behavior, was harming the country. I could no longer be a part of this madness,” she wrote.
Still lingering is the 2019 lawsuit that the Justice Department filed in federal court that alleged that Manigault Newman failed to file a financial disclosure report after she was fired from the White House in 2017. The judge in that case has been fully briefed on the DOJ’s motion for summary judgment but has not yet ruled on the motion.
CNN’s Kevin Liptak and Devan Cole contributed to this report.