Esper, 57, a West Point graduate and Gulf war veteran, said in a statement that he had waited for six months for the review process to play out but found “my unclassified manuscript arbitrarily redacted without clearly being told why”.
“I am more than disappointed the current administration is infringing on my first amendment constitutional rights. And it is with regret that legal recourse is the only path now available for me to tell my full story to the American people,” he said.
The Biden administration is now requesting the 6th Circuit dissolve or at least modify the 5th Circuit stay order, arguing that OSHA “reasonably concluded” the rule was necessary, and that constitutional concerns raised by businesses and states challenging it are meritless.
The opponents argue that the mandate exceeds OSHA’s authority and Congress’ ability to delegate to federal agencies, as well as the First Amendment, the Constitution’s Commerce Clause and laws protecting religious freedom, among other things.
The Biden administration’s effort to establish itself as a committed champion of press freedom is facing new doubts because of the Justice Department’s aggressive legal tactics against a conservative provocateur known for his hidden-camera video stings.
A predawn FBI raid last weekend against Project Veritas founder James O’Keefe and similar raids on some of his associates are prompting alarm from some First Amendment advocates, who contend that prosecutors appear to have run roughshod over Justice Department media policies and a federal law protecting journalists.
Biden is not required to answer reporter questions, according to political analyst Dan Schnur, a Republican-turned-independent now at the University of California. But he urged the White House to remember the news media is a proxy for voters.
“Biden hasn’t completely shut out the press, but he has been less available to them than any president in recent memory,” Schnur added. “The White House has the prerogative of deciding on the format, but the president should be much more available to questions from journalists than has been the case until now.”
Biden has a complicated relationship with the press. Some critics contend the White House does not grant reporters enough access to the president and that aides are “handling” him. Others believe his tendency to make verbal mistakes is problematic.
The Biden administration is playing an active role in flagging Facebook posts it considers to be “problematic” or “disinformation,” according to White House press secretary Jen Psaki.
During a Thursday press conference, Psaki said White House senior staff were engaging with “social media platforms” to combat the spread of “misinformation specifically on the pandemic.”
“In terms of actions we are taking or that we’re working to take, I should say, from the federal government, we’ve increased disinformation research and tracking within the surgeon general’s office. We’re flagging problematic posts for Facebook that spread disinformation,” she said.