Defense Department blocked Mark Esper's tell-all book — so he's suing
Mark Esper speaks to reporters at the Pentagon (MSNBC/screen grab)

Former Secretary Mark Esper is suing for his opportunity to cash in on his short time in former President Donald Trump's Cabinet. But according to the existing Defense Department, the book cannot move forward.

New York Times reporter Maggie Haberman reported Sunday that the department wouldn't clear the manuscript for publication. He was told that the book must remove the parts of the book about his time under Trump, which would likely make the book less of a draw.

Over the course of the past year since Trump left the White House, many former aides and renowned Washington reporters have published books. Esper's is certainly not the first Cabinet official to pen his memoirs, nor is his book the first to be put on pause for edits that could reveal classified information.

Beginning in October, Haberman said that the DoD staff told Esper he must make redactions to the book, but according to the lawsuit those redactions included quotes from Trump and others, conversations he had with Trump and his own opinions about foreign countries. The implication was that those pieces the DoD blocked shouldn't be classified.

Esper was fired by a tweet from Trump after he lost the election in Nov. 2020.

"As with all such reviews, the department takes seriously its obligation to balance national security with an author's narrative desire," said spokesperson John Kirby. "Given that this matter is now under litigation, we will refrain from commenting further."

When the DoD office returned the manuscript, Esper said "multiple words, sentences and paragraphs from approximately 60 pages of the manuscript were redacted. No written explanation was offered to justify the deletions."

"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," Esper continued. "Many items were already in the public domain; some were even published by D.O.D."

Read the full report at the New York Times.