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After failing to block publication, Justice Dept launches criminal probe into Bolton tell-all book

After failing to block publication, Justice Dept launches criminal probe into Bolton tell-all book
The Justice Department is investigating whether ex-national security adviser John Bolton illegally revealed classified information in his tell-all book, insider sources have claimed, after a lawsuit to block release came too late.

A grand jury has been convened to investigate whether the publication of ‘The Room Where It Happened’, Bolton’s memoir of his 17-month tenure as President Donald Trump’s national security adviser, violated laws concerning disclosure of classified information, sources familiar with the matter told the New York Times on Tuesday. Communications records from Bolton’s publisher, Simon & Schuster, have also reportedly been subpoenaed.

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National Security Council and Justice Department lawyers were hesitant to launch a criminal probe due to Trump’s many public statements condemning Bolton, the sources claimed – though the same judge who declined to halt the book’s release in June had already affirmed the validity of their case.

A lawsuit intended to stop publication, filed just a week before the release date, came too late, according to the Federal District Court of the District of Columbia, which declined to pull the book off the shelves. However, Judge Royce Lamberth clarified that Bolton could be criminally prosecuted if he had indeed pushed for publication without getting the green light from the national security reviewers, accusing the mustachioed war enthusiast of “gambling with the national security of the United States” and causing “irreparable harm” to the country.

While Bolton has denied his book revealed any classified information and insisted he submitted it to national security officials for review – the usual procedure for memoirs by former government officials – the Justice Department accused him of allowing his publisher to go forward with publication before the review process was complete. And after viewing classified declarations associated with the case, Lamberth concluded Bolton had indeed “likely jeopardized national security by disclosing classified information.

While the National Security Council’s head of prepublication review had signed off on Bolton’s manuscript, another reviewer at the agency claimed in an affidavit that he had found “multiple instances of classified information” lurking in the text, and Bolton never got a final approval letter from the White House. The newly converted never-Trumper told Simon & Schuster to release the book anyway.

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In addition to potential criminal charges, Bolton may have to forfeit profits from the book to the government. He is currently mired in civil litigation over whether he breached his pre-publication review agreement. Trump has torn into the book (and Bolton himself) ever since its publication was announced, denouncing his former official as a “sick puppy” and dismissing the “scandals” detailed in the memoir as “a compilation of lies and made-up stories, all intended to make me look bad.” 

Bolton left the White House last September in a parting of ways he and Trump have both insisted was their idea. He proceeded to turn on his former boss ferociously, volunteering to testify against him during impeachment proceedings after penning the offending book. The tome paints Trump as an inept, corrupt bumbler beholden to multiple foreign governments and was predictably embraced by the anti-Trump #Resistance, despite the inveterate hawk’s history of advocating war with a good chunk of the world’s countries and threatening the families of foreign diplomats.

The unlikely liberal champion has kept up his attacks on the president since the book’s release, appearing on CNN on Monday to deride Trump as a “useful idiot” in his geopolitical dealings with Russia, China, and North Korea. Trump, Bolton said, “just despised any indication that somehow Russia had influenced his election in 2016 because he felt it would delegitimize it.” 

News of the Justice Department’s investigation galvanized Bolton’s supporters, who flooded social media to denounce the department’s “weaponization” by Trump to “go after his enemies” and framed the probe as double-dipping after the failed lawsuit.

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