DOJ Opens Criminal Investigation Into John Bolton’s Book

on May 29, 2018 in Washington, DC.
WASHINGTON, DC - MAY 29: John Bolton (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
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September 15, 2020 11:54 a.m.

Federal prosecutors have opened a criminal investigation into the publication of former National Security Adviser John Bolton’s book, notching up the pressure on a critic of and former insider in the Trump administration.

A federal grand jury issued subpoenas to Simon & Schuster, the publisher of Bolton’s book, and his literary agent, Javelin, the Wall Street Journal and New York Times reported.

The subpoenas reportedly ask for all communications the companies had with Bolton as he published his book “The Room Where It Happened: A White House Memoir.” The book offered an inside account of Bolton’s time as national security adviser, replete with details and anecdotes that embarrassed President Trump.

Charles Cooper, an attorney for Bolton, issued a statement denying any wrongdoing by Bolton.

“Ambassador Bolton emphatically rejects any claim that he acted improperly, let alone criminally, in connection with the publication of his book, and he will cooperate fully, as he has throughout, with any official inquiry into his conduct,” the statement reads.

As Bolton’s book went to press in June, the Justice Department filed a lawsuit against Bolton seeking to to block its publication. A federal judge rejected that emergency request, but the Justice Department has reportedly continued in its civil inquiry of whether Bolton mishandled classified information in publishing the book.

But in that opinion, D.C. District Judge Royce Lamberth castigated Bolton, saying that his decision to publish the book without receiving final notice from the White House that its review of classified information was complete “raises grave national security concerns.” Bolton has said that the White House intentionally dragged its feet on approving the book in an effort to delay or avoid the publication of embarrassing information.

In the case of “The Room Where It Happened,” that secret information may include Bolton’s account of Trump trying to enlist the government of China to help him with his re-election effort, or the President committing to Turkish leader Reccep Tayyip Erdogan that he would shut down a Manhattan federal criminal investigation into a Turkish bank.

The Times reported that some attorneys in the National Security Council and Justice Department were concerned that opening a criminal case would be seen as a political act.

The case comes after Attorney General Bill Barr has already moved to drop charges against Michael Flynn, an ally of the President’s, and to lessen the sentencing recommendation of Roger Stone, a longtime associate of President Trump’s.

An attorney for Bolton did not immediately return a request for comment.

Tierney Sneed contributed to this report. 

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