Just days before the writer’s tell-all book is to be published, Assistant Attorney General Joseph Hunt raised the possibility of legal action and demanded details about the unnamed writer in a letter to the publisher and literary agents.
The individual, who has been described as a “senior Trump administration official,” may be violating “that official’s legal obligations under one or more nondisclosure agreements,” Hunt wrote in a letter Monday to Hachette Book Group executive vice president Carol Ross and Javelin literary agents Matt Latimer and Keith Urbahn. The letter was first reported by CNN.
The official’s book, “A Warning,” hits the shelves on Nov. 19 and promises “an unprecedented behind-the-scenes portrait of the Trump presidency.”
It’s unclear whether Trump directed the Justice Department to pursue the writer, whose September 2018 op-ed portrayed Trump as impulsive and unfit, with an inside resistance of patriotic aides struggling to restrain his worst impulses. Trump at the time suggested the op-ed was fiction, but demanded: “If the GUTLESS anonymous person does indeed exist, the Times must, for National Security purposes, turn him/her over to government at once!”
Hunt asked that Hachette and Javelin prove the author did not sign any NDA and “did not have access to any classified information in connection with government service.” If those assurances could not be made, Hunt requested details on the author’s government employment and dates.
NDAs, common in Trump’s administration, “typically require that any written work potentially containing protected information be submitted for pre-publication review,” Hunt noted. Legal experts have said the Trump NDAs are likely unenforceable.
Hachette and Javelin characterized the letter as an attempt to identify the writer and said they were rejecting its demands.
“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 said in a statement.
Hachette said it would publish the book as scheduled. The publisher said it “made a commitment of confidentiality to Anonymous and we intend to honor that commitment.”