Politics & Policy

Void the Non-Disclosure Agreements That Conceal Congressional Misconduct

(Reuters photo: Jonathan Ernst)
They serve no legitimate purpose and function to protect wrongdoers.

CNN’s Jake Tapper urges that non-disclosure agreements in cases of congressional misconduct — specifically, sexual-misconduct settlements — be nullified. I could not agree more.

Here’s his tweet:


A month ago, we learned new information about an FBI investigation relevant to the controversial 2010 acquisition of Uranium One by Rosatom, Russia’s regime-controlled energy conglomerate. Specifically, the FBI had evidence of crimes by Rosatom’s American subsidiary, the timely disclosure of which would have made it politically impossible for the Obama administration to approve Rosatom’s acquisition of Uranium One’s U.S. uranium-mining rights. Yet when Congress sought to look into this matter, it emerged that government’s informant witness had been induced by the FBI and Justice Department to sign a non-disclosure agreement. Reportedly, he was threatened with retaliation under this NDA if he shared what he knew with congressional committees.

That is absurd. The relevant crimes happened eight years ago, and the criminal case ended with guilty pleas three years ago. The only critical question now is what government officials knew and when they knew it. What conceivable reason could there be for keeping that secret?

Secrecy in government has its place — a very important place when it comes to intelligence that keeps the nation safe and promotes the rule of law. But the need for secrecy in some government operations is the smokescreen under which public officials often conceal government behavior that is embarrassing, incompetent, corrupt, reckless, dangerous, illegal, or even criminal. Particularly when a matter is outside the realm of national security or law enforcement, and when it involves the behavior of public officials, there should be a strong presumption against confidentiality.


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