White House Pushes Back Against Publication of John Bolton’s Book

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On January 23, the National Security Council sent a letter to John Bolton’s lawyer saying the unpublished manuscript of his upcoming book, The Room Where It Happened: A White House Memoir (Simon & Schuster), cannot be published until the “significant amounts of classified information,” including some at the “top secret level,” are removed. Bolton’s book is currently set for a March 17 publication date.

The letter came as Bolton, President Trump’s former national security adviser, said he was willing to testify at Trump’s Senate impeachment trial if subpoenaed.

The New York Times reported on January 26 that Bolton’s manuscript alleges that Trump told Bolton of a direct connection between the $391 million in withheld security aid to Ukraine and investigations into former vice president and current Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden.

Bolton’s book is still under pre-publication review by the National Security Council. The pre-publication review process is the standard review process that books written by government officials with access to classified information must go through prior to publication. In the letter to Bolton’s lawyer, the National Security Council said it would do its best to “work with you to ensure your client’s ability to tell his story in a manner that protects U.S. national security.”

However, on January 29, Bolton’s lawyer, Charles Cooper, released a follow-up letter he sent to the National Security Council in which he pushes back against the claim that the manuscript contains classified information in regards to the chapter on Ukraine.

Concerned about the possibility of Bolton being called to testify in the Senate impeachment trial, Cooper said in his letter, “If he is called to testify, it seems certain that he will be asked questions that will elicit much of the information contained in the chapter of his manuscript dealing with his involvement in matters relating to Ukraine.”

“We do not believe that any of that information could reasonably be considered classified, but…it is imperative that we have the results of your review of that chapter as soon as possible,” wrote Cooper.

Cooper later noted that he has not yet received details from the National Security Council as to its specific concerns about Bolton’s book.