Chuck Cooper, an attorney for former National Security Adviser John Bolton, said that Bolton’s book manuscript was submitted to the National Security Council for a standard review for classified information, but its contents appear to have been leaked to the New York Times.
Cooper said in a statement:
On December 30, 2019, I submitted, on behalf of Ambassador Bolton, a book manuscript to the National Security Council’s Records Management Division for standard prepublication security review for classified information. As explained in my cover letter to Ellen J. Knight, Senior Director of the Records Management Division, we submitted the manuscript notwithstanding our firm belief that the manuscript contained no information that could reasonably be considered classified and on the assurance that the ‘process of reviewing submitted materials is restricted to those career government officials and employees regularly charged with responsibility for such reviews’ and the ‘contents of Ambassador Bolton’s manuscript will not be reviewed or otherwise disclosed to any personals not regularly involved in that process. A copy of my December 30 letter is attached. It is clear, regrettably, from The New York Times article published today that the prepublication review process has been corrupted and that information has been disclosed by persons other than those properly involved in reviewing the manuscript.
The statement came after the Times report alleged — according to “multiple people” — that Trump told Bolton in August that he wanted to continue freezing $391 million in security assistance to Ukraine until they helped with investigations into Democrats including the Bidens.
The Times also story alleged that Bolton had circulated the draft manuscript to “close associates,” but a spokesperson for Bolton told the outlet, “The ambassador has not passed the draft manuscript to anyone else. Period.”
The leak of Bolton’s manuscript — while not known if accurately depicted — has fueled Democrats’ calls for Bolton to testify during the Senate impeachment trial against Trump.
House impeachment managers argued that despite having “overwhelming” evidence, they needed Bolton’s testimony. House Democrats dropped a subpoena of Bolton in order to avoid a lengthy court battle, but Bolton later said if subpoenaed by the Senate, he would testify.
The White House and Republicans argue that Bolton’s discussions with the president are protected under executive privilege, which allows for the president to keep discussions with his advisers private.
Democrats argued that the Times’ story was evidence that Bolton needed to testify.
“The Senate trial must seek the full truth and Mr. Bolton has vital information to provide,” according to a statement published by the Washington Post.
“There is no defensible reason to wait until his book is published, when the information he has to offer is critical to the most important decision senators must now make — whether to convict the president of impeachable offenses,” Democrats argued.