An attorney for the Justice Department warned that the anonymous author of an upcoming book on President Donald Trump could be violating non-disclosure agreements and that the work might be subject to pre-publication review.
But the author’s agents see the DOJ letter as an attempt to intimidate their client, who has been identified only as a current or former senior administration official.
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The book, A Warning, set to debut on November 19, has created huge anticipation for what it reveals about the Trump presidency. It’s written by the same anonymous author who penned an un-bylined opinion piece for The New York Times last year titled, “I Am Part of the Resistance Inside the Trump Administration.”
The DOJ lawyer, Assistant Attorney General Joseph H. Hunt, wrote in the letter to publisher Hachette Book Group on Monday that “publication of the book may violate that official’s legal obligations under one of more nondisclosure agreements, including non disclosure agreements that are routinely required with respect to information obtained in the course of one’s official responsibilities or as a condition to access to classified information.”
Hunt wrote that “such agreements typically require that any written work potentially containing protected information be submitted for pre-publication review.”
He sought either assurances that the author did not sign a non-disclosure agreement and did not have access to classified information, or that they provide copies of the agreements “or the dates of the author’s service and the agencies where the author was employed.”
Hachette, which is publishing the title through its Twelve imprint, refused to disclose the information, noting that it “made a commitment of confidentiality to Anonymous and we intend to honor that commitment.”
“Hachette is not party to any nondisclosure agreements with the U.S. government that would require any pre-publication review of this book, and Hachette routinely relies on its authors to comply with any contractual obligations they may have,” wrote Carol F. Ross, its EVP Business Affairs and General Counsel.
“Please be assured that Hachette takes its legal responsibilities seriously and, accordingly, Hachette respectfully declines to provide you with the information your letter seeks,” she added.
The author’s agents at Javelin, a literary agency led by Matt Latimer and Keith Urbahn, said in a statement, “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. 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.”
After The New York Times op-ed was published in early September 2018, Trump tweeted, “Treason?”
He later lashed out in more detail, writing: “Does the so-called ‘Senior Administration Official’ really exist, or is it just the Failing New York Times with another phony source? If the GUTLESS anonymous person does indeed exist, the Times must, for National Security purposes, turn him/her over to government at once!”