Federal prosecutors are considering filing criminal charges against former Trump National Security Advisor John Bolton if his soon-to-be-released memoir — In the Room Where It Happened: A White House Memoir — contains classified information, according to a report.
The Los Angeles Times reports:
The Justice Department is expected to seek a temporary restraining order from a federal judge as soon as Wednesday that would block Bolton and his publisher, Simon & Schuster, from releasing the memoir as planned on June 23, the people said. It is not clear how successful such a legal fight would be. On Wednesday, the Wall Street Journal published a lengthy excerpt of the book. It is also in the hands of journalists who have begun to chronicle its findings in stories.
The Times’ report comes one day after the Department of Justice asked a federal judge to block the publication of Bolton’s upcoming book.
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.
The UPI contributed to this report.