Feds Mulling Criminal Charges Against John Bolton Over Possible Classified Info Abuse
Justice Department considering prosecution if book leaks classified information
Former National Security Advisor John Bolton may be facing federal criminal charges if his new book reveals classified information, according to reports.
Bolton's new book, The Room Where It Happened: A White House Memoir, is already making waves ahead of its June 23 release date after leaked excerpts have revealed salacious allegations made against President Donald Trump.
Federal prosecutors at the Department of Justice (DOJ) are now considering criminal charges against the anti-Trump ex-White House official for allegedly disclosing classified info in his book, according to a report by The Los Angeles Times.
Trump previously warned that Bolton could face criminal prosecution for publishing the book, although he noted the decision is in the hands of Attorney General William Barr, MarketWatch reported.
“We’ll see what happens,” President Trump said on Monday.
“They’re in court — or they’ll soon be in court.”
Trump and AG Barr have both accused Bolton of bypassing the pre-publication review process that's meant to ensure the absence of classified details.
“We don’t believe that Bolton went through that process — hasn’t completed the process — and, therefore, is in violation of that agreement,” the attorney general said.
According to the Los Angeles Times, the DOJ is also planning to seek a temporary restraining order as soon as Wednesday to block the publication of the book, which is slated to debut next week via Simon & Schuster.
On Wednesday, the Wall Street Journal published a lengthy excerpt from the book.
It is also in the hands of journalists who have begun to chronicle its findings in stories.
The DOJ’s lawsuit requests that the judge block Bolton from “compromising national security” by releasing his book, which the agency says is “rife with classified information."
“The United States seeks an order requiring defendant to abide by his contractual and fiduciary duties to complete the prepublication review process and not disclose classified information without written authorization, thereby protecting the national security of the United States,” the lawsuit states.
In January, the White House told Bolton’s legal team that a preliminary review of his manuscript showed that it possessed “significant amounts of classified information” that must be removed if it was to be published.
The lawsuit continues: “Simply put, defendant struck a bargain with the United States as a condition of his employment in one of the most sensitive and important national security positions in the United States government and now wants to renege on that bargain by unilaterally deciding that the pre-publication review process is complete and deciding for himself whether classified information should be made public.”
After the White House warning, Bolton submitted the book for review by Ellen Knight, senior director for records access and information security management at the National Security Council.
On April 27, she made the judgment that the revised version of the manuscript did not contain classified information, the suit states.
However, on May 2, the NSC’s director for intelligence, Michael Ellis, began an additional review at the request of Robert O’Brien, who succeeded Bolton as national security adviser.
The suit states that O’Brien was “concerned that the manuscript still appeared to contain classified information, in part because the same administration the author served is still in office and the manuscript described sensitive information about ongoing foreign policy issues.”
Ellis completed his initial review on June 9 and the legal adviser to the NSC sent a letter to Bolton’s lawyer stating that “the manuscript still contains classified information, because, among other things, it includes information that he himself classified and designated for declassification only after the lapse of 25 years.”
The suit states that publication of the book including the information cited in Ellis’ review would violate the terms of Bolton’s non-disclosure agreements.