News Release

Trump, Confidentiality Agreements and “Endemic Lawlessness”


Donald Trump tweeted this morning about his nondisclosure agreement with Stormy Daniels: “These agreements are … very common among celebrities and people of wealth.”

ALAN GARFIELD, aegarfield at
Garfield is a professor at Widener University Delaware Law School and the author of “Promises of Silence: Contract Law and Freedom of Speech” in the Cornell Law Review. His recent articles include “End the confidentiality agreements that help perpetuate abuse” for the Philadelphia Inquirer.

PETE DAVIS, pedavis at, @PeteDDavis
Davis is a civic reformer from Falls Church, Virginia and a member of the Harvard Law School Class of 2018. He recently wrote the report “Our Bicentennial Crisis: A Call to Action for Harvard Law School’s Public Interest Mission,” summarized at The Harvard Law Record.

He said today: “Billionaires like Donald Trump have access to armies of lawyers while average Americans frequently don’t even have access to one. People like Rudy Giuliani say they care about law and order, but if citizens don’t have access to legal power, you have endemic lawlessness.”

The first part of the report “documents how the vast public is excluded from legal power in the United States:

“…in the broken criminal justice system: how public defenders are grossly underfunded and understaffed — a contributing factor to prosecutorial abuses and our ballooning prison system.

“…in the inaccessible civil justice system: how 86 percent of the civil legal needs of the poor go unmet; how America ranks 50th of 66 wealthy countries in terms of ‘the ability of people to obtain legal counsel.’

‘…in the indentured political system: how public interest lobbyists are outnumbered 34-to-1 by corporate interest lobbyists in D.C.; how tort law and antitrust law are crippled by corporate interest lawyers; and how the John M. Olin Foundation paid Harvard Law School $18 million to teach what they have admitted is ‘conservative constitutional law.'”

See YouTube summary of the report and Davis’ piece “Jeff Flake’s shameful record on civil legal aid for the poor.”

The report also notes: “Researchers estimate that $20-50 billion in wages are stolen from American workers by their employers annually. Yet only a small fraction, a little less than $1 billion, of that stolen property is recovered each year in civil suits or by state and federal enforcement. If American workers had anywhere close to the legal power that their employers do, we would not be witnessing such a corporate crime wave.”

Background: See by Russell Mokhiber of Corporate Crime Reporter: “Matt Taibbi on Corporate Crime and American Injustice in the Age of the Wealth Gap,” a discussion of Taibbi’s book The Divide: American Injustice in the Age of the Wealth Gap.