Buzzfeed News released a non-disclosure agreement “regularly used by the [Trump] campaign” that explicitly forbids former employees from “demean[ing] or disparag[ing]” Trump, his family, or any Trump assets. The agreement further calls into question CNN’s hiring of former Donald Trump campaign manager and now-CNN contributor Corey Lewandowski, who has acted more like a Trump sycophant than an unbiased political commentator since joining the network.
Lewandowski joined CNN in June, asserting that he was “going to tell it like it is.” During his first interview on the network as a contributor, Lewandowski would not say whether he signed a non-disparagement agreement with the Trump campaign, although CNN’s Jeff Zeleny reported that it was likely he would have in his capacity as campaign manager.
Buzzfeed News reported on a copy of a “regularly used” Trump campaign confidentiality agreement revealed as an exhibit in a lawsuit Trump filed against a former campaign consultant. In addition to barring employees from disclosing confidential information about the candidate on TV, films, the internet, or “otherwise, even if fictionalized,” the agreement also stated that employees are not allowed to “demean or disparage publicly the Company, Mr. Trump, any Trump Company, any Family Member, or any Family Member Company,” including after employment termination (emphasis original):
No Disparagement. During the term of your service and at all times thereafter, you hereby promise and agree not to demean or disparage publicly the Company, Mr. Trump, any Trump Company, any Family Member, or any Family Member Company or any asset any of the foregoing own, or product or service any of the foregoing offer, in each case by or in any of the Restricted Means and Contexts.
Journalists, including numerous CNN employees, heavily criticized CNN for hiring Lewandowski after numerous incidents of Lewandowski attacking the press, and his signing of a non-disparagement agreement makes it unlikely that he can legally provide honest, unbiased commentary on the Trump campaign. Tom Fiedler, former editor of The Miami Herald, said that if Lewandowski signed a non-disparagement agreement, “He must be perceived as being totally compromised in his commentary -- put bluntly, a Trump shill.”
During Lewandowski’s appearances on the network since his employment, he has repeatedly used his platform on CNN as a paid contributor to campaign for and defend Trump. Washington Post politics and media reporter Callum Borchers asserted that Lewandowski “has not yet transitioned out of his role as a Trump employee” on CNN and has failed “to contribute meaningful insight and analysis -- even from a pro-Trump perspective.” In addition, new reports indicate that Lewandowski is simultaneously being paid by Trump and CNN as he receives severance from the Trump campaign and still advises Trump as a CNN contributor.