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DOJ Letter About Anonymous Trump Admin Official’s Forthcoming Book Perceived as a Threat


The Department of Justice on Monday said the anonymous author of A Warning, the upcoming book by an unnamed White House employee which purports to expose serious concerns with President Donald Trump’s administration, may be violating “one or more” of their employment related non-disclosure agreements.

The letter, written by assistant attorney general Joseph H. Hunt, said the existence of any such agreement would require the book be made available to the government for screening prior to its release on Nov. 19, according to a CNN report.

“If the author is, in fact, a current or former ‘senior official’ in the Trump Administration, publication of the book may violate that official’s legal obligations under one or more nondisclosure agreements, including nondisclosure agreements that are routinely required with respect to information obtained in the course of one’s official responsibilities or as a condition for access to classified information,” Hunt wrote. “Such agreements typically require that any written work potentially containing protected information be submitted for pre-publication review.”

The letter reportedly requested information regarding the author’s employment contract and details pertaining to the dates and agencies for which they’ve worked, which was evidently perceived as a threat by the individual’s agents.

Representatives for the author, who is said to be the individual behind the New York Times’s controversial 2018 anonymous op-ed “I Am Part of the Resistance Inside the Trump Administration,” responded to the letter within hours.

“Our author knows that the President is determined to unmask whistleblowers who may be in his midst. That’s one of the reasons A WARNING was written,” Javelin Literary Agents said in a statement defending their client. “But we support the publisher in its resolve that the administration’s effort to intimidate and expose the senior official who has seen misconduct at the highest levels will not prevent this book from moving forward.”

President Trump, the day the op-ed was published, tweeted an all-caps, one-word question in response.

Carol Ross, the head attorney for publisher Hachette Book Group, outright refused to comply with the DOJ’s request, reiterating that the book would be released as scheduled.

“I confirm that Hachette Book Group (‘Hachette’) will be publishing an important book by an anonymous individual who is a ‘current or former senior official’ of the Trump Administration (‘Anonymous’),” Ross wrote.

Ross said that while Hachette takes steps to ensure their authors are in compliance with their contractual obligations, they would not risk divulging any information that could unmask the anonymous writer.

“Hachette has, however, made a commitment of confidentiality to Anonymous and we intend to honor that commitment. Please be assured that Hachette takes its legal responsibilities seriously and, accordingly, Hachette respectfully declines to provide you with the information your letter seeks,” Ross said.

The DOJ earlier this year filed a lawsuit against former NSA contractor Edward Snowden for failing to submit his book, Permanent Record, for pre-publication screening. It’s not clear at this time if there a lawsuit will similarly be filed over A Warning.

[Image Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images]

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Jerry Lambe is a journalist at Law&Crime. He is a graduate of Georgetown University and New York Law School and previously worked in financial securities compliance and Civil Rights employment law.