Esper says Americans deserve ‘unvarnished’ look at ‘tumultuous’ Trump administration as he sues Pentagon over book redactions

Former Secretary of Defense Mark Esper said Monday that the American people deserve an “unvarnished” look at former President Donald Trump’s “tumultuous” presidency after he filed a lawsuit against the Pentagon for not clearing his book manuscript for publication.

“My view is that the American people deserve a full and unvarnished history of the last presidency, the Trump administration,” Esper told CNN’s Jake Tapper on “The Lead” in his first interview since suing the Defense Department. “And what I aimed to do was to provide important insights and anecdotes and color to what was arguably one of the most tumultuous second halves of an administration in history.”

Esper’s lawsuit against the Defense Department came after the agency told him that he needed to take out parts of the book about his time working under Trump. The dispute developed during the pre-publication review of his manuscript, a typical process government officials must go through to receive approval when writing about their service, so that state secrets and other protected information isn’t made public.

Beginning in October, a Defense Department staff member told Esper he needed to make redactions to his book, according to his lawsuit filed Sunday.

But Esper said the requested redactions covered quotes from Trump and others, conversations he had with Trump, and his views related to foreign countries. Trump fired Esper by tweet in early November 2020, days after losing the presidential election.

The former secretary of defense on Monday called the redactions “arbitrary and unfair,” telling Tapper he “submitted what (he) believed at the time and still believe is an unclassified manuscript.”

This is a breaking story and will be updated.

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