The passage from the book, “A Sacred Oath,” which comes out Tuesday, was a “major” sticking point when Esper submitted his manuscript for the agency’s review, people familiar with the matter told CNN on Friday.
“They were particularly concerned about the possibility of upsetting the relationship between the United States and Mexico,” one of the people explained to CNN.
“They vehemently opposed it,” the person added.
Defense Department spokespersons did not dispute CNN’s reporting when asked to comment on Friday.
Instead, a Department of Defense spokesperson said: “We followed each of our long-established protocols and policies, as we do with every book submitted for pre-publication review. beyond that, we have nothing to offer.”
Members of the executive branch are required to submit book manuscripts for agency review to ensure they do not contain sensitive material, such as classified information. The process, however, is not intended to be used to withhold information from the public solely because it might be embarrassing to the government or officials who serve or have served in it.
Esper claimed that, in his case, the process went wrong.
Esper ultimately dropped the lawsuit because the Pentagon reversed course on the “overwhelming majority” of the documents at issue, his attorney, Mark Zaid, said at the time.
In the passage, which CNN obtained a copy of, Esper described the conversations as “quite disturbing” and said that if he “hadn’t seen the look on the president’s face,” he would have “thought everything that was a joke.”