Pentagon ‘vehemently’ objected to book passage over fears it could damage relations with Mexico
In his upcoming book A Sacred Oath, Mr Esper recounted a conversation in 2020 where the former president said: “We could just shoot some Patriot missiles and take out the labs, quietly”.
Mr Esper writes that he would have thought it was “all a joke” if he hadn’t seen the serious look on the president’s face.
A source told CNN the passage became a major obstacle after Mr Esper submitted it to the department for review to ensure he was not disclosing classified information.
“They were particularly worried about this because of the potential to upset relations between the US and Mexico,” the source said.
“They objected to it vehemently.”
Defence department spokesperson Sue Gough told The Independent Mr Esper’s book was reviewed as in accordance with its standard prepublication security practices.
These are to ensure that neither sensitive information was not “improperly released to the public”.
“We do not comment on the details of security review discussions with authors,” Ms Gough saidin a statement.
Mr Esper sued the Department of Defence last November when they tried to block some passages from being published, claiming they were concealing embarrassing details “under the guise of classification”.
In February, his lawyer Mark Zaid said the Pentagon had reversed its stance on “the overwhelming majority” of material that officials had deemed classified and thus not for publication.
Among the many stunning disclosures in the book was that former Trump adviser Stephen Miller wanted a slain Isis leader’s head dipped in pig’s blood and put on display as a warning to other terrorists.
Mr Miller has denied the allegation.
Mr Esper was fired by tweet two days after the 2020 election, as Mr Trump tried to “tighten his grip on the executive branch with demands of personal loyalty”.
A Sacred Oath is available from Tuesday.