Ex-White House aide Cliff Sims sues Trump

A former White House communications aide who wrote a memoir about his experience working in the Trump administration is suing President TrumpDonald John TrumpWarren: Dershowitz presentation 'nonsensical,' 'could not follow it' Bolton told Barr he was concerned Trump did favors for autocrats: report Dershowitz: Bolton allegations would not constitute impeachable offense MORE

Cliff Sims, who once served as director of White House message strategy and as a special assistant to the president, is arguing that Trump used his campaign as "a private surrogate" for the federal government in an effort to get retribution on him and prevent him from invoking his First Amendment rights.


The New York Times noted that Trump's campaign organization filed an arbitration claim against Sims last week, accusing him of violating a nondisclosure agreement by publishing accounts of his time in the White House in the book, "Team of Vipers."

Sims filed the lawsuit in a federal court in Washington on Monday. He said in the suit that he couldn't recall if he signed a nondisclosure agreement when he joined the administration.

The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Hill. 

Sims accuses Trump of "seeking to impose civil liability against Sims through application of NDAs that apply to information Mr. Sims learned solely during his federal service.”

The suit alleges that Trump has been selective in regards to enforcing nondisclosure agreements. For example, the suit says Trump tried to enforce the agreement after former staffer Omarosa Manigault NewmanOmarosa Onee Manigault NewmanThe Memo: Impeachment's scars cut deep with Trump, say those who know him Author of anonymous 'resistance' NYT op-ed to publish book Juan Williams: Black Republicans call out Trump — finally — on race MORE published a book about her time working in the White House. However, he did not seek to enforce it when former press secretary Sean SpicerSean Michael SpicerPress: It's time to bring back White House briefings Rapid turnover shapes Trump's government Pelosi gets under Trump's skin on impeachment MORE released a book. 

Sims's book, which detailed dysfunction and infighting inside the administration, prompted outrage from President Trump the week it was published. 

"A low level staffer that I hardly knew named Cliff Sims wrote yet another boring book based on made up stories and fiction,” Trump tweeted on Jan. 29. “He pretended to be an insider when in fact he was nothing more than a gofer.”

Michael Glassner, chief operating officer of Donald J. Trump for President Inc., said on Twitter the same day that the campaign was preparing to "file suit against Cliff Sims for violating our NDA."

“The Trump campaign’s demand for arbitration is nothing but a subterfuge for the actions of the [federal government]," Sims's lawsuit alleges. “[It was] undertaken under express authorization and instruction, and certainly with the blessing of, President Trump."

It added that the government has “infringed upon Mr. Sims’s First Amendment rights as a former federal employee and acted contrary to the interests of public policy.” 

Sims’s publishing house, St. Martin’s Press, stood by Sims in a statement to the Times, saying that “recent attempts to selectively prevent former government employees from speaking and writing about their experience as public servants call for our scrutiny, and illustrate how essential the First Amendment is to the preservation of democracy.”

--Updated at 6:37 p.m.