The writer reportedly received no advance and will donate part of the book's royalties

By Sam Gillette
November 05, 2019 11:55 AM

A senior government official who last year wrote a scathing essay about what it was like working for President Donald Trump has more to say — and the government has concerns.

Against the backdrop of the House of Representatives’ impeachment investigation, the Department of Justice has issued a challenge to the anonymous official, who has said they were witness to President Trump’s problematic behavior in the White House.

On Monday, Associate Attorney General Joseph H. Hunt sent a letter to the publisher of the soon-to-be-released A Warning by Anonymous, by the unnamed White House official who wrote a controversial opinion piece for The New York Times last fall.

In his letter, Hunt requested identifying details and proof that the Trump insider hadn’t violated any nondisclosure agreements.

“We request that you immediately provide us with your representations that the author did not sign any nondisclosure agreement and that the author did not have access to any classified information in connection with government service,” Hunt wrote to the book’s publisher, Twelve Books, an imprint of Hachette Book Group.

Hunt continued: “If you cannot make those representations, we ask that you immediately provide either the nondisclosure agreements the author signed or the dates of the author’s service and the agencies where the author was employed, so that we may determine the terms of the author’s nondisclosure agreements and ensure that they have been followed.”

Twelve Books declined the government’s request.

“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,” Carol F. Ross, executive vice president of Hachette’s general counsel, responded in letter shared with PEOPLE. “Hachette has, however, made a commitment of confidentiality to Anonymous and we intend to honor that commitment.”

Since the official’s op-ed — headlined “I Am Part of the Resistance Inside the Trump Administration” — went viral in September 2018, many have clamored for their identity, which was protected first by the Times and now Hachette.

“I work for the president but like-minded colleagues and I have vowed to thwart parts of his agenda and his worst inclinations,” the official wrote last year.

“We want the administration to succeed and think that many of its policies have already made America safer and more prosperous,” the official wrote. “But we believe our first duty is to this country, and the president continues to act in a manner that is detrimental to the health of our republic.”

In response to the piece, Trump, 73, raged on Twitter, claiming the Times made up the author.

He went on to say that the author’s identity should be revealed, after first suggesting that if the person were real, he or she would be committing “treason.”

“If the GUTLESS anonymous person does indeed exist, the Times must, for National Security purposes, turn him/her over to government at once!” Trump later tweeted.

President Donald Trump (center)
| Credit: Evan Vucci/AP/Shutterstock

The book’s agent, Matt Latimer, said that maintaining anonymity was a necessary part of the official’s mission, according to the Times.

The writer received no advance and will donate part of the book’s royalties, the Times reports.

“The author’s goal is to try to reach that small but electorally significant percentage of Trump voters who might be persuaded not to support him again,” Latimer told the paper. “This author knows the president, and knows how he likes to distract attention from a message by targeting and raising questions and conspiracy theories about the messenger.”

Despite criticism over the continued secrecy — even as the impeachment investigation prompts more and more government officials to testify about Trump in damaging detail — the book’s publisher is confident about sharing this account with the public.

“I’m very comfortable telling you that this person is a serious person and a good example of one of the adults in the room,” Sean Desmond, head of the imprint Twelve, told the Times. “If ‘Anonymous’ were to be revealed or come out —- not that there’s a plan to do so — I have no worries whatsoever. I’m very proud to be publishing this person.”

A Warning will be released on Nov. 19.