4:03pm PT by Eriq Gardner
Donald Trump Gets Taunted by Former Campaign Staffer in Battle Over Confidentiality
Khizr Khan isn't the only one holding up the U.S. Constitution in Donald Trump's face.
On Thursday, Samuel Nunberg, a former Donald Trump campaign staffer who went on to endorse Ted Cruz, filed a blistering court brief in an attempt to keep a dispute from proceeding in arbitration. In the court papers, he asserts that the Trump Campaign is attempting to "punish and chill" his free speech rights and contends that the Trump Campaign is expressing "utter contempt and disregard for the Bill of Rights."
The Trump Campaign is accusing Nunberg of breaching a 2015 confidentiality agreement by allegedly leaking information to Politico about a confrontation between top staffers. Nunberg also is charged with disparaging staffers in a June article published by GQ. Trump is seeking at least $10 million in a claim first made at the American Arbitration Association.
In reaction, Nunberg is looking to a New York Supreme Court judge to stop the arbitration. That brought the Trump Campaign on July 28 to accuse Nunberg of "a calculated attempt to not only propel himself back into the spotlight, but use the Court and this Motion as a vehicle to disclose confidential information and make wild, outlandish and reckless accusations in flagrant violation of the Confidentiality Agreement."
Here's the rejoinder from Thursday's court papers:
"While it may be the philosophy of the Trump Campaign that all publicity is good publicity, rest assured, Mr. Nunberg's legal steps taken in response to the substantial, yet frivolous unauthorized arbitration claims raised on behalf of the Trump Campaign, cannot rationally be deemed to be publicity stunt."
The two sides are fighting over which is operative: a consulting agreement with Trump's exploratory committee or an earlier agreement with another Trump entity. It appears that the latter contains an arbitration clause while the former mandates disputes in open court in New York.
Although the judge's decision will turn on these contracts, Nunberg's attorney Andrew Miltenberg is looking unkindly at the suggestion he's spilling secrets and is using the opportunity to attack Trump's definition of confidentiality, which will be the larger subject of the dispute once the forum of the fight is chosen. For example, earlier court papers made reference to a New York Post Page Six article about a screaming row between former Trump campaign manager (and current CNN talking head) Corey Lewandowski and campaign spokesperson Hope Hicks. Miltenberg writes that "embarrassing shouting on a public street" can hardly qualify as confidential nor can Nunberg's endorsement of Cruz.
The newest court papers then move to taunting Trump on constitutional grounds.
"It is disingenuous for the Respondents (especially a presidential candidate) and their counsel to contend that Mr. Nunberg's public policy argument presented based upon First Amendment grounds to stay the arbitration is frivolous," states the Nunberg brief. "Certainly, Mr. Nunberg, as a citizen of this free country should be protected against such prior restraints of his free speech rights that the arbitration process itself will impose, especially where the arbitrators are ill-equipped to recognize or protect such fundamental rights."