Trump immigration order co-drafted by Hill staffers under non-disclosure agreements (1 Viewer)

superchuck500

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To some this might not seem like a big deal, but this is troubling on its face and in the context of what was clear ignorance from Trump about the Constitution and how the federal government actually works.

Executive orders are actions by the executive branch - and separation/balance of powers require that sharing/vetting of actions or policy language go through official channels. Despite clear indications from the Hill that the immigration order wasn't disclosed to any GOP leadership in Congress, it is now clear that some Hill staffers actually worked on the language (though most of it was written by Bannon).

The staffers involved worked for Republican congressional members, some of whom defended their work stating that they were lended to the Trump transition team, and that's not uncommon. While that is true, the purpose of Hill (and other areas of government) lending support to the transition is for administrative and operational needs - not to draft substantive policy that is not directed at government operations. The problem it raises is that it lends the appearance of vetting when there was no vetting . . . and it potentially places either the staffers or their bosses in a conflict should there be congressional inquiries or hearings about the order. (And there likely will be with this one).

But what's more remarkable here is that the legislative staffers were required to sign a non-disclosure agreement in conducting their work. It's not entirely clear what the non-disclosure provides, though at least two news outlets (the New Yorker and Politico.com) have reported that the agreement was for complete secrecy, and prohibited the staffers from discussing their work with anyone including their own bosses. Not only is this potentially in conflict with established federal law, it also raises further questions about the separation and conflict issue.

Further, I don't think there is any such thing as contractual non-disclosure when it comes to federal employees doing their jobs. That information should be available, as appropriate, internally without legal process (though administrative or congressional subpoena could easily apply), and written materials are available under the Freedom of Information Act (subject to a handful of exceptions, of course). Those rules can't be modified by internal written agreement.

We know that Trump uses non-disclosure agreements in his businesses, in litigation, and with regard to his television shows. When it comes to information, he is a control freak, that way the message is strictly the one that he demands. But it doesn't work that way in government - he isn't the boss, he is only the boss's proxy (the American public). It would certainly be troubling if use of non-disclosure agreements become standard procedure for federal employees working on White House instructions, or at least troubling if the White House tries to enforce them against existing law on the public nature of the work of American government.

Staffers for House Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte were involved and he was apparently unaware of their work on the order. He has come out publicly saying "it's no big deal" because he had approved their work with the transition (generically) but I have to strongly believe that he is not the least bit happy that the White House would have his staff work on drafting such a controversial order, without even his general consent that they would be doing it, and putting them under a non-disclosure agreement. There's no way he's not ****** off.



While only a handful of GOP lawmakers have publicly come out against President Trump’s executive order restricting immigration from seven Muslim-majority nations, according to multiple reports Republicans are furious that the White House gave them no notice about the travel ban, then offered them little guidance as the policy was haphazardly implemented.

Trump advisers Steve Bannon and Stephen Miller reportedly drafted many of last week’s executive orders on their own, without consulting anyone responsible for implementing or defending the policies. According to the AP, Defense Secretary James Mattis, Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly, and Rex Tillerson, Trump’s pick for secretary of state, have complained that they were kept in the dark about the immigration ban. Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker said congressional leaders learned about the ban from media reports.

It appears that the Trump White House actually did work with several Republicans on Capitol Hill — but they were House Judiciary Committee staffers, not members of Congress. They couldn’t tell their bosses because the Trump team had them sign nondisclosure agreements.

Politico reported on Monday night that a small group of senior staffers on the House Judiciary Committee began working on the immigration order during the transition period. Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte was not “consulted by the administration on the executive order,” according to one committee aide.

Two sources said all of the staffers signed nondisclosure agreements, which is standard for Trump [campaign and transition] employees but unheard of for congressional aides.
Congressional Aides Secretly Helped Craft Travel Ban: Report

GOP panel chairman defends his staff working on Trump immigration order - POLITICO
 

mb504

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"Non-disclosure agreements" for public employees doing public work...lol. At least he doesn't use e-mails, amirite?
 

mr.t

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It's called stopping leaks. There are a lot in the govt. on both sides that are after him. He shaking them all up. Go for it.
 

efil4stnias

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It's called stopping leaks. There are a lot in the govt. on both sides that are after him. He shaking them all up. Go for it.
wanna stop leaks?

dont go behind the backs of your constituency.
 

insidejob

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It's called stopping leaks. There are a lot in the govt. on both sides that are after him. He shaking them all up. Go for it.
It's called attempting to hide what he's doing from everyone, including his own staff and members of Congress.
 

superlaser

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It's called stopping leaks. There are a lot in the govt. on both sides that are after him. He shaking them all up. Go for it.
We all understand this was done to 'stop leaks.' But when you take an action, there's almost always consequences to it beyond the one you intend. Allowing government employees to sign NDA's for political purposes may be effective to achieve the immediate goal of secrecy and getting a measure into effect, but it is incredibly dangerous and ripe for abuse. You have to consider all the consequences, not just the ones you want to hear.
 

Galbreath34

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The huge effort behind never writing things down is disturbing too. It's a long used tactic (verbal rather than written agreements etc) that Trump has boasted about in past lawsuits. "I don't use email so no one has a record of what I ordered. You can't prove it definitively." When this becomes government practice to explicitly work to undermine accountability and dodge FOIA laws it's beyond disturbing.
 

superlaser

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The huge effort behind never writing things down is disturbing too. It's a long used tactic (verbal rather than written agreements etc) that Trump has boasted about in past lawsuits. "I don't use email so no one has a record of what I ordered. You can't prove it definitively." When this becomes government practice to explicitly work to undermine accountability and dodge FOIA laws it's beyond disturbing.
And his supporters don't seem to care as long as he 'gets things done'. How they get done isn't remotely a concern.
 

billinms

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The huge effort behind never writing things down is disturbing too. It's a long used tactic (verbal rather than written agreements etc) that Trump has boasted about in past lawsuits. "I don't use email so no one has a record of what I ordered. You can't prove it definitively." When this becomes government practice to explicitly work to undermine accountability and dodge FOIA laws it's beyond disturbing.
What part of the Trump presidency thus far hasn't been beyond disturbing?
 

RussTKD

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I would argue his SCOTUS pick, and Nikki Haley pick as well. But the rest, not so much.
I don't think he made the SCOTUS pick. I think it was "if you pick from this list, you'll get the full support of the Heritage Foundation" and he threw a dart at it.

Nikki Haley needs to be proven, but I don't dislike her.
 

DaveXA

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I don't think he made the SCOTUS pick. I think it was "if you pick from this list, you'll get the full support of the Heritage Foundation" and he threw a dart at it.

Nikki Haley needs to be proven, but I don't dislike her.
Yeah, if she's anything like what she was as governor of SC, then she'll do just fine. She's definitely her own person.

Agreed on the SCOTUS pick. At least he didn't try to screw that up royally. So I'm ok with it.
 

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