An explosive report from the New York Times to be released today reveals why Nikki Haley, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, remains one of the few Trump appointees to escape the president’s wrath when things go wrong in his administration: he’s bound by a non-disclosure agreement with the popular former governor of South Carolina.
“I can neither confirm nor deny that the president has signed a non-disclosure agreement with Ambassador Haley,” says a White House official who spoke on condition of anonymity. “You’ll have to ask the president that, because I am not at liberty to talk about matters relating to non-disclosure agreements between the president and the people who work for him. Perhaps I’d like to talk about it, but I can’t.”
Non-disclosure agreements, or NDAs, are an unusual tool to curb administration leaks but Trump, who has a history of using them to keep former employees, wives, and alleged mistresses quiet, has reportedly used them extensively with his staff aides. What would be more unusual, though, analysts say, is that he would be bound by one himself in connection with one of his appointees.
“We’re talking about a man who uses NDAs as a power tool,” ABC political analyst Peter Harper said last night on This Week with George Stephanopoulos. “To think that he himself might have signed one is to suggest someone—in this case, Ambassador Haley—has immense power over him. If you believe that, then you have to believe—well, you can fill in the blank yourself. I can’t even bring myself to say it, but I’m thinking about something that has to do with rolling up a magazine that has his picture on the cover and using it in a way that doesn’t have much to do with the words inside it.”
Analysts say that news of the NDA could give credence to the salacious suggestion in Michael Wolff’s tell-all book, Fire and Fury, that Haley and the president have been having an affair. Although Wolff never named Haley, he said readers can figure out who the mystery person is by reading between the lines. Haley has denied the allegation; Trump has said nothing about it.
Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the White House spokesperson, called the allegation that Trump and Haley are having an affair fake news. “I spoke to the president about this and he waved me away without even speaking,” Sanders said. “He clearly doesn’t believe these rumors are worth even talking about. I can tell you, he’s never said a word to me about anything that goes on between him and Ambassador Haley. That should tell you something, because he doesn’t hold back with his criticism of appointees, like when he and Rex [Tillerson, former secretary of state] got crosswise, he didn’t hesitate to let the world know how he felt.”
Haley, who analysts say is a possible future Republican presidential candidate, is scheduled to be at Mar-a-Lago this week as Trump prepares for meetings with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzō Abe, who is looking to shore up his relationship with the United States before Trump meets with North Korea President Kim Jong-Un. “The ambassador will be in a closed-door meeting with the president Friday night,” a spokesperson for the ambassador said this morning.
When asked if the meeting would extend beyond the bedtime of Trump, who is known to turn in early, the spokesperson said she wasn’t authorized to comment on that. “You’ll have to ask the president that, although I’m pretty sure he won’t answer you,” she said.
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