Lawyer: US drops trial, grand jury investigation into Bolton’s book
The Justice Department on Wednesday dropped its lawsuit against John Bolton, former national security adviser to former President Donald Trump, for his book which officials said disclosed classified information, according to court documents and officials. representatives of Bolton.
Prosecutors also dropped a grand jury investigation into the book’s publication, Bolton’s lawyer said on Wednesday.
The Trump administration sued last year to block the release of Bolton’s book, “The Room Where It Happened,” and to recover copies of the book that had already been distributed. The book, published in the run-up to the 2020 presidential election, offered a behind-the-scenes and unflattering account of Trump’s foreign policy relations. He described how Trump asked Chinese President Xi Jinping to help the American’s re-election prospects and how Trump pressured his Ukrainian counterpart for politically motivated inquiries.
Justice Department attorneys who sued the book had insisted the manuscript contained classified information that could harm national security and which Bolton, former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, did not have successfully completed a pre-publication review process designed to prevent the disclosure of government secrets. .
On Wednesday, the Biden administration filed a document in federal court dismissing the lawsuit, officially ending the year-long legal battle.
“These actions represent complete justification for Ambassador Bolton and a repudiation of former President Trump’s attempt to protect classified information, first to suppress the publication of the book and, when this failed before the courts, to penalize the ambassador, ”said Bolton’s spokeswoman. Sarah Tinsley.
Bolton’s lawyers said he brought the book forward after a White House National Security Council official, with whom Bolton had worked for months, said the manuscript no longer contained classified information.
This official, Ellen Knight, described in a letter to the court last September how officials in the Trump administration have repeatedly exerted political pressure in a futile effort to block the book’s release. She described an unusual process of delaying tactics and legal maneuvering.
Knight, a career government records professional, said through her attorney that after determining that the manuscript no longer contained classified information and was ready for clearance, she learned that a politically appointed person with no experience in the pre-publication review process had been nominated by the White House to conduct the re-review.
This official subsequently pointed to hundreds of passages from Bolton’s manuscript which he said were still on file.
Last year, a federal judge rejected the Justice Department’s efforts to stop the book from being released, in part because hundreds of thousands of copies had already been distributed. But the judge said he was concerned that Bolton published the book before he received an official letter of authorization, which Knight said was blocked by the White House.
In addition to prosecuting Bolton, the Justice Department has opened a criminal investigation into the book, although that investigation has now been dropped, representatives for Bolton said. A spokesperson for the department declined to comment on Wednesday.
Bolton’s attorney, Charles J. Cooper, described the government’s efforts to block the book as part of a “politically motivated order” by Trump.
“By terminating these proceedings without in any way penalizing Ambassador Bolton or limiting his income from the book, the Justice Department has tacitly acknowledged that President Trump and his White House officials have acted illegitimately,” he said. Cooper said in a statement.
The book garnered considerable attention even before its publication after news broke during Trump’s first impeachment trial that Bolton wrote how Trump tied the provision of military assistance to Ukraine to the will of this country to investigate Trump’s Democratic rival, current President Joe Biden.
These allegations were at the heart of an impeachment trial that ended with Trump’s acquittal by the Senate in February 2020. Bolton, however, refused to testify in the impeachment process.
Bolton’s time at the Trump White House was unsurprisingly difficult. A recognized national security hawk, Bolton was an odd choice for Trump, who advocated an end to US military operations abroad. The two continued to clash in public comments long after Bolton left office.
“The government’s abandonment of the Bolton criminal investigation and civil trial indicates that both actions were continued at the request of the Trump White House as political retaliation against Bolton, not on the legal merits,” said a former justice ministry national security official. David Laufmann.
“This is now an additional case justifying an investigation by the Inspector General of the Ministry of Justice,” he added.