Ex-Pentagon chief says Defence Department censoring ‘tumultuous’ details of Trump presidency

Mark Esper was fired by tweet in the days after Donald Trump lost the 2020 presidential election

Justin Vallejo
New York
Tuesday 30 November 2021 00:29
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Former President Donald Trump's New Picture Book

The former head of the Pentagon has sued the Department of Defence, accusing the government of blocking the publication of a new book revealing the “tumultuous” consequences of Donald Trump’s presidency.

Mark Esper filed a lawsuit against his former employer for allegedly blocking the release of large swathes in his upcoming memoir, A Sacred Oath.

Mr Esper filed the lawsuit this week after his direct appeals to current Secretary of Defence Lloyd Austin failed to move the Pentagon from blocking the content.

"Some requested redactions asked me to not quote former President Trump and others in meetings, to not describe conversations between the former president and me, and to not use certain verbs or nouns when describing historical events," Mr Esper wrote, according to the court filing obtained by The Independent.

"For me to redact or alter all of the items currently required by the [Defence] review not only grossly exceeds the purpose of the process, but doing so would be a serious injustice to important moments in history that the American people need to know and understand," he added.

The book, scheduled to be released in May next year, covers Mr Esper’s time as Army secretary in 2017 until he was fired, by tweet, as defence secretary in the days after the 2020 presidential election.

Mr Esper said in a statement that the "full and unvarnished accounting" of that period, and that the current Pentagon leadership was arbitrarily infringing on his First Amendment rights without giving a reason.

"My memoir – A Sacred Oath – offers important details and new insights into many of the most controversial events that occurred during the tumultuous second half of the Trump Administration," he said.

The Pentagon’s chief spokesman, John F Kirby, said the agency is aware of Mr Esper’s concerns but that they would not comment on a matter under litigation.

"As with all such reviews, the department takes seriously its obligation to balance national security with an author’s narrative desire,” Mr Kirby told The New York Times, which was first to report the lawsuit on Sunday.

According to the lawsuit, many of the items redacted included widely reported material already in the public domain, included some published by the Department of Defence itself.

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