Today was not the best day for Donald Trump from either a financial or a legal standpoint, particularly after a court arbitrator determined that Trump’s campaign organization is liable for $1.3 million in payments to cover the legal costs of former White House aide — and Apprentice contestant — Omarosa Manigault Newman.
The judgment and financial penalty come at the end of a long legal battle that began when Trump sued his former aide over her insider’s account of the Trump White House, Unhinged, claiming that the book violated a non-disclosure agreement that Omarosa — as she is usually referred to— signed when she worked for his 2016 presidential campaign.
Trump lost the arbitration battle over what was essentially an unenforceable non-disclosure agreement, one of several unsuccessful attempts at muzzling his former employees through these types of agreements.
Once it was determined that Omarosa had not violated the terms of her NDA, the court battle shifted to an argument over Trump’s own liability for the costs of waging the arbitration struggle and how much he would be ordered to pay his former aide for her legal assistance in the case.
Trump’s attorneys argued that Manigault Newman “made bad-faith arguments and should not receive legal fees,” according to The New York Times.
The arbitrator, however, cited the enormous expense that Omarosa undertook in her defense and decided in her favor, awarding the $1.3 million judgment in her favor.
“Respondent was defending herself in a claim which was extensively litigated for more than three years, against an opponent who undoubtedly commanded far greater resources than did respondent,” the arbitrator said.
John Phillips, Omarosa’s attorney, crowed over the size of the settlement that the arbitrator ordered.
“[The award] hopefully will send a message that weaponized litigation will not be tolerated and empower other lawyers to stand up and fight,” he said.
Phillips provided a copy of the arbitrator’s ruling on the fees to The New York Times.
The award marks the end of a long and odd relationship between Omarosa who met Trump during the first season of The Apprentice and worked on his 2016 campaign as an emissary to America’s knowingly skeptical Black voters. After his victory, she was hired as a White House aide before ultimately being fired in January of 2018 by then-White House Chief of Staff John Kelly.
Later that year, Omarosa published Unhinged, one of the first of many tell-all books to emanate from refugees of the Trump White House and one that immediately shot to the top of the best-sellers charts.
Today’s announcement of the judgment against Trump is only the latest in a series of losses that the former president has suffered over his NDA violation claims against former employees.
Last month, He “was ordered to pay more than $300,000 in legal fees to a former campaign aide who said that the candidate had forcibly kissed her. The campaign sued, arguing she had violated the terms of her nondisclosure agreement. The judge in the case called the agreement ‘vague and unenforceable,’” according to The New York Times.
With Trump finally beginning to face some consequences for his past actions, one can only hope that the Department of Justice is working diligently to deliver some further legal losses to the disgraced ex-president.
Original reporting by Maggie Haberman at The New York Times.