Trump’s former defense secretary says there is nothing classified in his book.
Former Defense Secretary Mark Esper, who served under former President Donald Trump until his dismissal following the 2020 election, sued the Defense Department over redactions they made to his next book.
Esper’s memoir, due for release in May 2022, is expected to chronicle his time in the Trump administration, during which he first served as Secretary of the Army and then Secretary of Defense until Trump tweets about his November 9 layoff. 2020, after weeks of contention.
The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Washington on Sunday, said Esper had engaged in “extensive coordination” with the Department’s Office of Pre-publication and Security Review .
Esper alleges the review “dragged on” for six months and when he finally heard on October 7 after reaching out in May, no explanation was given for some of the redactions.
“No written explanation has been offered to justify the reductions,” Esper wrote in an email to current Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin. “My follow-up conversations with the DOPSR official in charge of my case confirmed my assessment. He was also unable to say that the redacted material contains classified information or compromises national security.”
Esper said he was asked not to quote his conversations with Trump or other foreign officials, although much of the material “was already in the public domain,” according to Esper.
His lawyers argue in the lawsuit that the Defense Department “unlawfully pre-restrained Mr. Esper by delaying, obstructing and violating his constitutional right to publish his unclassified manuscript titled ‘A Sacred Oath.’
The former defense secretary also said he had previously met with Austin’s chief of staff and Defense Department director of administration and management Mike Donley.
“I shouldn’t be forced to change my views, opinions, or descriptions of events just because they can sometimes be too blunt for normal diplomatic protocol. After all, the DOPSR process is about protecting classified information and protecting it. do not harm national security – two of the important standards to which I am fully committed. In addition, my constitutional rights must not be restricted because my history or my choice of words can provoke uncomfortable discussions in foreign policy circles ” , he said in the trial.
Pentagon press secretary John Kirby responded in a statement Monday.
“We are aware of Mr. Esper’s concerns regarding the pre-publication of his briefs. As with all of these reviews, the Department takes seriously its obligation to balance national security with an author’s narrative desire. this matter is currently the subject of litigation, we will refrain from commenting further, ”Kirby said.
In a note first reported by ABC News chief Washington correspondent Jonathan Karl in his new book “Betrayal,” the office of presidential personnel under the leadership of John McEntee, a favorite Trump aide, pleaded for Esper’s dismissal three weeks before Esper was dismissed. .
The reasons set out for his dismissal in the memo included that Esper “crossed the Confederate flag” on military bases, “opposed the president’s directive to use US forces to quell the riots,” “focused the department on Russia “and” was actively pushing for ‘diversity and inclusion.’ “
ABC News’ Matt Seyler contributed to this report.