Former Defense Secretary Mark Esper filed a lawsuit Sunday against the Defense Department, accusing the Pentagon of “censoring” his First Amendment rights by redacting parts of his upcoming book on the Trump administration.
The big picture: Esper, who served as defense secretary from July 2019 until he was fired by then-President Trump in November last year, alleges in the suit that “significant text” is “being improperly withheld from publication” of the manuscript “under the guise of classification.”
“I was also asked to delete my views on the actions of other countries, on conversations I held with foreign officials, and regarding international events that have been widely reported. Many items were already in the public domain; some were even published by DOD.”
— Excerpt from lawsuit
What they’re saying: Esper said in a statement that his memoir, “A Sacred Oath,” due to be released in May, “offers important details and new insights into many of the most controversial events that occurred during the tumultuous second half of the Trump Administration.”
The other side: Pentagon spokesperson John Kirby said in a statement to news outlets that he’s “aware” of “Esper’s concerns regarding the pre-publication of his memoir.”
What to watch: Esper has asked the D.C. District Court to permit the publication of unclassified information in the book.
Editor’s note: This article has been updated with further details of the case.