Lawyer: John Bolton will cooperate with any probe into his book

Brenda Watkins
September 18, 2020

The Department of Justice opened a criminal investigation into John Bolton following the publication of the former national security adviser's book critical of President Trump.

It said publisher Simon & Schuster had been subpoenaed for communications relating to the book, "The Room Where it Happened", which depicted Bolton's former boss as reckless and corrupt, and supported the charges on which Trump was impeached in December.

Trump has said multiple times he wants Bolton jailed, tweeting he is "incompetent", "wacko", and a "lowlife" who "broke the law" and "should be in jail".

The Trump Administration spent months trying to prevent the Bolton book from being published and sold, citing national security concerns about sensitive information officials said was in the version that eventually hit bookshelves.

The Justice Department sued unsuccessfully to block the release of the book.

Hundreds of thousands of copies of the book had already been distributed, and Judge Royce Lamberth concluded at the time that the emergency request from the Trump administration had come too late.

But the opinion left open the possibility that Bolton could be criminally charged if he allowed the memoir to be released before final approval.

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The Times reported some of the lawyers referenced a federal judge who, in June, said the Justice Department's case to halt the publication of Bolton's book - which was ultimately unsuccessful - contained some valid points. "He has exposed his country to harm and himself to civil (and potentially criminal) liability", Lamberth wrote in his 10-page order.

Bolton's attorneys wrote that the feds failed to make a good-faith effort to clear Bolton's book in a timely manner, writing in a court filing, "The facts in the public record overwhelmingly indicate that the government violated" its obligation to act in good faith "by undertaking and conducting the second, and unprecedented, further prepublication review ... for the political objective of suppressing, or at least delaying until after the 2020 election, the publication of a book that reported facts portraying President Trump in an unfavorable and embarrassing light".

A case against Bolton would focus on his claim that his manuscript had passed through a pre-publication national security review and claims by critics that it did not complete that review.

"In fact, the NSC has determined that information in the manuscript is classified at the Confidential, Secret, and Top Secret levels", department attorneys said in a June court filing.

Officials presented their evidence of classified information in the book to Lamberth at a closed-door hearing.

The unlikely liberal champion has kept up his attacks on the president since the book's release, appearing on CNN on Monday to deride Trump as a "useful idiot" in his geopolitical dealings with Russia, China, and North Korea.

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