Back in June, the Justice Department failed to stop John Bolton, the former national security adviser to President Trump, from publishing a tell-all memoir about his time in the chaotic White House. But this week, it launched a criminal inquiry into Bolton and his publisher. The investigation will consider whether Bolton illegally disclosed privileged information in writing his book, The Room Where It Happened.
Additionally, a grand jury approved subpoenas against Simon & Schuster, the memoir’s publisher, and the Javelin Agency, which represents Bolton.
War of Words
The inquiry, and ensuing subpoenas, represent an escalation of hostility between the Trump Administration and Bolton. The book in question details Bolton’s experience as a high-ranking cabinet member under Trump. In it, Bolton describes his former boss as incompetent and unfit for the job. Additionally, his book confirms several aspects of the Ukraine scandal that triggered Trump’s impeachment. Moreover, he details Trump’s willingness to intervene in criminal matters to serve his self-interest. Finally, it raises allegations that Trump sought China’s assistance to help him win re-election.
The President, meanwhile, has castigated Bolton, labeling him a “disgruntled former employee” at a recent town hall event. At the time of the book’s publication, Trump tweeted, “Washed up Creepster John Bolton is a lowlife who should be in jail, money seized, for disseminating, for profit, highly Classified information.”
Gambling with National Security?
Now, with tens of thousands of copies of the book already in the hands of readers, Judge Royce Lamberth has ruled that the Trump Administration has missed its chance to apply an emergency request to halt the book. Still, the Judge warned Bolton that he could pay for the candor in his memoir. In his ruling, Judge Lamberth wrote that Bolton “gambled with the national security of the United States. He has exposed his country to harm and himself to civil (and potentially criminal) liability” for possibly revealing classified information.
Subsequently, Bolton’s attorney, Charles Cooper, released the following statement:
We are aware of reports that grand jury subpoenas have been issued seeking information concerning the publication of Ambassador Bolton’s recent book. 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.
Even the Justice Department can’t keep up with what seems to be a daily flood of Trump tell-alls. On Tuesday, Simon & Schuster, the same publisher behind Bolton’s memoir, released Rage, by lauded journalist Bob Woodward. The book is the result of extensive one-on-one conversations between Woodward and the President himself. Last week, the author released segments of the recorded phone conversations that form the basis for the book. Among other revelations, Trump admits on tape that he purposely “downplayed” the threat of coronavirus from the beginning.