Cliff Sims, former White House communications aide and author of the tell-all book Team of Vipers, sued Donald Trump in federal court on Monday. In the lawsuit, Sims claims that Trump used his campaign to violate his first amendment rights to free speech and freedom of the press.
According to a report from the New York Times, Sims is suing the president in his official capacity, claiming that the president used his campaign as a “cutout” to intimidate and retaliate against former employees in order to silence them.
Last week, President Trump’s campaign filed an arbitration claim against the author. The claim states that Sims violated a non-disclosure agreement when he joined the campaign in 2016. Sims claims that he can’t recall if he signed a non-disclosure statement when he came on as a White House staffer in 2017, but many people have been asked to do so.
Initially, Trump seemed to dismiss Sims’ book, but later he became more and more upset with the tell-all, which detailed infighting among staffers in the White House.
The lawsuit claims that the NDAs have not been enforced equally, but seem to target individuals who have spoken negatively about the president or his White House. Specifically, it mentions Omarosa Manigault Newman and former White House press secretary Sean Spicer. Both individuals have written books about their experience in Trump’s administration, but the latter of the two hasn’t seen any action against him despite speaking about his time in the White House. On the other hand, Trump has filed arbitration against Manigault Newman.
Sims’ lawsuit also says that the campaign “is seeking to impose civil liability against Mr. Sims through the application of NDAs that apply to information Mr. Sims learned solely during his federal service.”
The suit, which was filed in Washington D.C. on Monday, alleges that Trump is using his position to infringe on his First Amendment rights.
“The Trump campaign’s demand for arbitration is nothing but a subterfuge for the actions of the [federal government]. [It was] undertaken under express authorization and instruction, and certainly with the blessing of, President Trump,” the suit claims.
The Team of Vipers publishing house, St. Martin’s Press, is standing by the author.
“When presidents or their political campaigns seek to silence a voice, it is especially important that we maintain our steadfast commitment to free speech,” it said in a statement.
The White House hasn’t responded to the New York Times’ requests for comment on the lawsuit.