Former White House National Security Adviser John Bolton vowed in a Friday statement to release his book going after President Trump, despite a standoff with the White House on whether it contains classified information.
“This is the book Donald Trump doesn’t want you to read,” Bolton’s office and publisher Simon & Schuster said, advertising a June 23 release of “In The Room Where It Happened: A White House Memoir.”
Bolton was ousted last year after his hawkish views increasingly conflicted with foreign-policy leanings of Trump, with a final breakdown including disagreement on holding talks with the Taliban at Camp David.
Bolton volunteered to testify at Trump’s Senate impeachment trial this year, but ultimately wasn’t called. Since then, his book release has stalled with wrangling over whether it contains classified information.
If Bolton releases the book and officials claim some information is classified, he could face prison time and loss of book revenue.
“If [the government] deems even one word classified, Bolton can be prosecuted. Regardless, failure to obtain approval subjects him to civil liability,” said Mark Zaid, a prominent national security attorney and Trump critic who represented the whistleblower who triggered Trump’s impeachment for encouraging Ukraine to investigate Democrats.
Bolton lawyer Charles Cooper said this week that he received a letter on Wednesday from White House attorney John Eisenberg saying further revisions are required.
The defiant Bolton statement insisted the First Amendment allows Bolton to move forward with publication and teased barbs for Trump.
“I am hard-pressed to identify any significant Trump decision during my tenure that wasn’t driven by reelection calculations,” Bolton writes in the book, according to the statement.
The statement says that, “Drawn from his personal participation in key events, and filled with perspective and humor, Bolton covers an array of topics — chaos in the White House, sure, but also assessments of major players, the President’s inconsistent, scattershot decision-making process, and his dealings with allies and enemies alike, from China, Russia, Ukraine, North Korea, Iran, the UK, France, and Germany.”
Bolton worked as national security adviser from April 2018 to September 2019. Trump often said he kept Bolton as an aide to play “bad cop” on foreign policy areas such as Iran, despite the fact that he and Bolton had sharp policy disagreements, including on whether the Iraq War was a mistake.
Throughout his tenure, media accounts relayed friction between Bolton and Trump, as West Wing foes of Bolton angled for his ouster.
The Friday statement claims that the White House is attempting hold up the book without justification, and that the opposition therefore will be ignored.
“In the months leading up to the publication of ‘The Room Where It Happened,’ Bolton worked in cooperation with the National Security Council to incorporate changes to the text that addressed NSC concerns. The final, published version of this book reflects those changes, and Simon & Schuster is fully supportive of Ambassador Bolton’s First Amendment right to tell the story of his time in the Trump White House,” it says.
The statement continues: “Bolton also reveals what it was like to fight against an incumbent President determined to prevent publication of this book. Trump directed the seizure of and withheld his personal and other unclassified documents, despite numerous requests for their return. He also obstructed Bolton’s Twitter account and made outright threats of censorship. Bolton’s response? Game on.”
The White House has rebuffed Bolton’s claim that he was locked out of his personal Twitter account. Then-Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham quipped in November: “Sometimes… somebody who is of an advanced age may not understand that all you have to do is contact Twitter and reset your password if you’ve forgotten it.”
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