Ex-defense secretary Mark Esper drops lawsuit against Pentagon

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Ex-defense secretary Mark Esper drops lawsuit against Pentagon

Former Defense Secretary Mark Esper has dropped a lawsuit against the Defense Department in which he claimed that material was improperly withheld from his use as he wrote a memoir about his tenure in the Trump administration.

The Pentagon reversed its position on the overwhelming majority of material that officials deemed classified and therefore not for publication, according to Esper's lawyer, Mark S. Zaid. Zaid said that what remained in dispute over its classification wasn't central to Esper's book.

The lawsuit filed Nov. 28 in the U.S. District Court in Washington contended that significant text in the memoir was improperly held under the guise of classification. Esper said publicly that some 60 pages of the manuscript contained redactions at one point during a security review and that no classified information was being used.

The book, A Sacred Oath, will be published in May, according to Zaid.

The book covers Esper's time as army secretary, from 2017 to 2019 and his 18 months as defence secretary. President Donald Trump fired a Gulf War veteran and West Point graduate in a tweet shortly after Trump lost his re-election bid.

Esper and Trump clashed over several issues while Esper was the leader of the Pentagon, including the use of the military during civil unrest in June 2020 after the killing of George Floyd. After losing an election, no other president had fired a defence secretary, and that allowed Trump to place loyalists in Pentagon positions as he disputed his loss to Democrat Joe Biden.

The lawsuit described the period when Esper was Pentagon chief as an unprecedented time of civil unrest, public health crises, growing threats abroad, Pentagon transformation, and a White House seemingly bent on circumventing the Constitution.