The Department of Justice (DOJ) has launched a criminal investigation to investigate whether President Donald Trump’s former national security adviser John Bolton disclosed confidential information in his most recent book.
According to the New York Times, the U.S. Department of Justice convened a grand jury to issue a subpoena to Simon & Schuster, the publisher of Bolton’s memoirs, “The Room That Happened.” According to the Wall Street Journal, the grand jury also issued a subpoena to Bolton’s literary agency Javelin.
The Trump administration had previously tried to prevent the publication of the book because it contained classified information, which was highly critical of the president. This move was ultimately unsuccessful. Nevertheless, according to a report in The Times, Trump’s carefully selected director of national intelligence, John Ratcliffe, referred the matter to the Department of Justice’s national security department last month, which initiated a criminal investigation. survey.
Bolton denied that his memoir contained any confidential information. Although he agreed to let the government review its content to ensure that it does not contain classified information, the Justice Department accused Bolton of allowing Simon and Schuster to publish the book before final approval. The agency failed to prevent the publication of the book.
Washington Circuit Judge Royce Lamberth ruled in June: “There are thousands of copies worldwide-many of them in newsrooms-causing damage.”
However, this opinion makes it possible for Bolton to be criminally prosecuted if he allows the memoir to be released before final approval.
Lambert wrote: “Bolton has been betting on the national security of the United States.” “He has harmed his country and made himself civil (and possibly criminal) liable. However, these facts do not control the motion of the court.”
Lambers also said that he “the defendant Bolton may violate his confidentiality agreement obligations by leaking confidential information, thereby endangering national security.”
A lawyer disputed Bolton’s conclusion that his obligations were “not fully complied with” and accused the government of slowing the approval process to prevent the publication of highly critical books. According to The Times, the senior official of the National Security Council (NSC) conducting the pre-publication review also stated in an email that she was “satisfied with Bolton’s editing to address her concerns about confidential information.”
But the report stated that the White House initiated another review without notifying Bolton, and officials cited multiple instances of confidential information. Although Bolton did not receive final approval from the White House, he approved the publication of the memoir.
The grand jury subpoena was filed after Trump repeatedly asked Bolton to be prosecuted for the publication of the book. The president claimed that Bolton “breaks the law” and “should be used to spread highly classified information for the purpose of imprisonment.” At the same time, he also considered the book to be a “compilation of lies and fictional stories, all to make me appear not good. “
The memoir details Trump’s alleged attempts to pressure Ukraine and China to investigate Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden, as well as his behind-the-scenes transactions with Turkey and North Korea.
The New York Times reported that lawyers from both the Justice Department and the National Security Council expressed concern about the launch of a criminal investigation because Trump’s statement “makes this look like an overt political act”.
National security lawyer Bradley Moss described the criminal investigation as an “absolutely public political act,” but it is unclear whether this is sufficient to offset the potential criminal charges against Bolton.
Bolton also faces a separate civil lawsuit, which may require him to confiscate the proceeds of the book because it violates the pre-publishing review agreement.
Lamberth, who is in charge of the case, said in June that Bolton should sue the government rather than approve the release of the memoir before the process is complete.
“This is Bolton’s bet: if he is right and the book does not contain confidential information, then he will retain the above advantages; but if he is wrong, then he will lose profits from the book transaction, be criminally liable, and Endanger national security.” Lambert said at the time. “Bolton was wrong.”
However, some legal experts expressed concern about the Justice Department’s pursuit of former officials who criticized the president.
Steve Vladeck, a professor of law at the University of Texas, said: “Bolton has nothing to blame for his behavior,” but this is a transparent effort to retaliate against former senior officials for exercising their First Amendment rights and composure. Those thoughts. About the same step forward. “