Trump’s defense secretary sues the Pentagon over revision of memos | Donald Trump News
Mark Esper says the administration “arbitrarily” redacted the manuscript, which details his time in the Donald Trump administration.
Former Pentagon chief Mark Esper has accused the Defense Department of unnecessary censorship of his “candid and frank memoirs” detailing his time in the administration of former President Donald Trump, according to a new lawsuit.
Esper’s memoir, titled Holy Oath, highlights his tenure as Secretary of the Army from 2017 to 2019, as well as his 18 months as Pentagon chief under Trump.
In the lawsuit, it described the period as “an unprecedented period of civil unrest, public health crises, growing threats abroad, and a Pentagon transformation, with the White House seemingly intent on circumventing the Constitution.”
However, the lawsuit alleges, “An important text has been improperly withheld from publication… under the guise of classification. The withheld text is critical to telling the important stories discussed in the manuscript.”
Esper and Trump were sharply divided over the use of the military during civil unrest in June 2020 after the killing of George Floyd.
Other issues, including Esper’s opposition to withdrawing troops from Afghanistan, led the president to believe that Esper was not loyal enough. Esper said he was trying to keep the department apolitical.
Trump fired Esper in a tweet days after he lost the 2020 election, allowing the president to appoint loyalists to senior Pentagon positions while continuing to question the results.
The lawsuit cited a letter Esper sent to current Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin criticizing the six-month review process.
He wrote that he was asked not to quote Trump and others in meetings, not to describe conversations he had with Trump, and not to use certain verbs or nouns when describing historical events.
The letter says that about 60 pages of the manuscript contained revisions of some sort.
Esper wrote that agreeing to all of these revisions would lead to “a grave injustice at important moments in history that the American people need to know and understand.”
The lawsuit also notes that some of the stories in the manuscript appear to have been leaked to the press, “perhaps to undermine the impact” of the book.
“I am deeply disappointed that the current administration is violating my constitutional rights to the First Amendment,” Esper said in a subsequent statement. “Unfortunately, legal asylum is the only avenue now available for me to tell my full story to the American people.”
Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said the department was aware of Esper’s concerns.
As with all of these reviews, the administration takes seriously its commitment to balancing national security with the author’s narrative desire. “Given that this matter is now under litigation, we will refrain from further comment,” he said in a statement.