Former US Defense Secretary Mark Esper is suing the Pentagon, arguing that the department is blocking portions of an upcoming memoir about his tenure under former president Donald Trump.
Esper, who served as defense secretary from July 2019 until being fired by Trump in November, filed a lawsuit against the Pentagon on Sunday, contending it is “improperly” withholding “significant text” from his memoir – A Sacred Oath- “under the guise of classification.”
“The withheld text is crucial to telling important stories discussed in the Manuscript,” the lawsuit reads.
The book, which is set to be published in May, chronicles Esper’s experience in what he described as a “tumultuous second half of the Trump administration.”
Esper claimed in a statement that his goal is to give the public “a full and unvarnished accounting of our nation’s history, especially the more difficult periods.”
He wrote that his tenure was “an unprecedented time of civil unrest, public health crises, growing threats abroad, Pentagon transformation, and a White House seemingly bent on circumventing the Constitution.”
He said in the lawsuit that the Pentagon is unlawfully imposing restraint on his book by “delaying, obstructing and infringing on his constitutional right to publish” his book.
He noted defense officials redacted 60 pages of his memoir and told him not to quote Trump and others in meetings or mention their conversations. He added officials also asked him not to use certain nouns and verbs while writing about historical events in the book.
“I am more than disappointed the current Administration is infringing on my First Amendment constitutional rights,” Esper said in his statement. “And it is with regret that legal recourse is the only path now available for me to tell my full story to the American people.”
Esper and Trump clashed over using the military to corral demonstrators protesting the police murder of Black George Floyd last June. Trump accused him of not being sufficiently loyal while Esper claimed he was trying to keep his department politically neutral.