Trump's Defense Secretary Mark Esper is suing the Defense Department, claiming it's wrongfully censoring his memoir

By Kelsey Vlamis

Former Secretary of Defense Mark Esper is suing the Department of Defense for blocking parts of his memoir from being published, The New York Times first reported Sunday.

Esper filed the lawsuit in Federal District Court in Washington, DC, on Sunday. He is asking the court to allow the publication of unclassified parts of his memoir, "A Sacred Oath," which is about his time working under former President Donald Trump.

"Significant text is being improperly withheld from publication in Secretary Esper's manuscript under the guise of classification," the lawsuit said, according to The Times. "The withheld text is crucial to telling important stories discussed in the manuscript."

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

Esper, a Republican, served as secretary of defense from July 2019 to November 2020. He was fired by Trump in the days after the election. Esper told ABC's Jonathan Karl that he spent his final months at the Pentagon trying to stop Trump from using the military against Americans during "the days before, the day of, and the days after the election."

"The American people deserve a full and unvarnished accounting of our nation's history," Esper said in a statement to The Wall Street Journal, adding that his memoir includes "important details and new insights" into the Trump administration.

He said he submitted his memoir to the Defense Department and waited six months, only to have the manuscript "arbitrarily redacted without clearly being told why."

In a statement to The Times, Esper said: "I am more than disappointed the current administration is infringing on my First Amendment constitutional rights. 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's memoir is set to be published in May 2022.