Washington – The Department of Justice has opened a criminal investigation into whether President Trump’s former National Security Advisor John R. Bolton illegally disclosed classified information when he published a memoir this summer, a case that opened after he failed to stop the book’s publication this summer. According to three people familiar with the case.
The department has formed a grand jury, which issued a sub-name for the communication record of Simon & Schuster, the publisher of Mr. Bolton’s memoir, “The Room When It Happened.” In the book, Mr. Bolton dispenses a highly ineffective account of his 17 months working in the Trump administration.
The investigation is a significant increase in the book’s widespread publication. The Trump administration sought to halt its publication in a lawsuit accusing Mr. Bolton of proceeding with the publication without receiving final notice that a pre-publication review was done to complete the classified information. The Director of National Intelligence referred the matter to the Department of Justice last month, of which two people said. John Dimmers, head of the department’s National Security Division, then briefed the case.
Mr. Bolton has denied that he has published classified information. Representatives from the Office of Justice, Director of National Intelligence and the National Security Council declined to comment.
Lawyers for the National Security Council and the Department of Justice expressed reservations about opening a criminal case, in part because Mr Trump’s public statements made it seem like a highly political act, according to two officials briefed on the discussions. Others mentioned that a federal judge this summer said that Mr. Bolton had broken the law, and that the case was of merit.
Mr. Bolton agreed to allow national security officials to review any book that he could write before publication to ensure that it contained no classified information. The department accused Mr. Bolton of allowing Simon & Schuster to publish his book before he officially signed off that his pre-republican review was complete. This prevented publication.
But the department sued Mr. Bolton before he set his book to hit retailers in June, and a federal judge said it was too late to put the book out of readers’ hands.
“With hundreds of thousands of copies worldwide – many in the newsroom – there has been damage,” Judge Royce C. of the Federal District Court of the District of Columbia. Lamberth has written.
But in his opinion, Judge Lamberth also suggested that Mr Bolton could be criminally prosecuted if he allowed the book to be published before he officially received official notice.
“Lanton has gambled with the national security of the United States,” Judge Lumberth wrote. “He has exposed himself to civilian (and potentially criminal) liability for harming his country. But these facts do not govern the motion before the court. “
After looking at the classified declarations and discussing them in a closed hearing, Judge Lambert also stated that he “agreed that defendant Bolton had disclosed classified information in violation of his unlawful settlement obligations to the National Endanger security. “
Mr. Bolton’s attorney, Charles J. Cooper rejected the judge’s view. “We take the issue respectfully, however, with the court’s initial conclusion in the initial phase of the case that Ambassador Bolton did not fully comply with his contractual primacy obligation to the government,” Mr Cooper said in a statement. “The full story of these events has yet to be told – but it will happen.”
On the issue of whether Mr. Bolton received a signoff from the government that the preappraisal review process was complete.
Mr. Cooper has accused the administration of slowing down the process to keep Mr. Bolton from revealing embarrassing information about Mr. Trump. The administration has said that Mr. Bolton illegally disclosed classified information.
In an email, the top official of the National Security Council asked for a pre-republication review saying he was satisfied with the edits that Mr. Bolton had made about the classified information.
But the White House launched another review without informing Mr. Bolton, and the officer involved in that review said in an affidavit that he found several examples of classified information in the manuscript as part of that process.
Even though Mr. Bolton did not receive a final approval letter from the White House, he asked Simon & Schuster to publish it anyway.
Separated from criminal investigations, Mr. Bolton still faces civil litigation, which could force him to forfeit the proceeds from his book to the government as a penalty for breaking his foregoing review agreement.
Judge Lamberth, who is overseeing the litigation on book income, wrote in June that Mr Bolton may have sued the government instead of unilateral publication if he was unhappy with the delay.
“It was Bolton’s wager: If he is right and the book does not contain classified information, he is noted above; but if he is wrong, he stands to lose his profit from the book deal, himself criminal liability and Exposes national security, “he wrote.” Bolton was mistaken. “