US President Donald Trump on Monday said that former White House National Security Advisor John Bolton would be breaking the law if he publishes his upcoming book 'The Room Where It Happened: A White House Memoir”, in which the former Trump appointee and senior national security advisor details the president’s dealing with Ukraine.
“That’s criminal liability, by the way, you are talking about. You are not talking like he has to return three dollars that he made off the book. It’s called criminal liability. It’s a big thing,” Trump told reporters at the White House when asked about the upcoming publication.
Explaining his claims, Trump said that any dialogue with him was “highly classified”. He added that it was “highly inappropriate” for Bolton to write a book.
“Maybe he’s not telling the truth, he’s been known not to tell the truth, a lot,” Trump suggested, referring to his former top security advisor, before asking US Attorney General William Barr to comment.
Barr claimed that Bolton had not yet accomplished the process necessary to publish his book, adding that the Justice Department wants him to omit some classified information.
“People who come to work in the government and have access to sensitive information generally sign an agreement that says that when they leave government if they write something that [...] might reflect some of the information they have had access to, they have to go to a clearance process before they can publish a book,” Barr said. “We don’t believe that Bolton went through that process. [He] hasn’t completed the process and therefore is in violation of that agreement”.
Bolton’s book is set to expose Trump’s dealings with Ukraine to dig up dirt on his political rival Joe Biden, which led the president's impeachment, and going beyond to detail “Trump misconduct with other countries”.
Earlier in the day, ABC News reported, citing sources familiar with the matter, that the Trump administration is expected to file a lawsuit in a federal court seeking a court order to prevent publishing the book in its current form.
The report comes one week before the release of the 576-page memoir, scheduled for 23 June. The book was set for a 12 May sale date, but its publication was delayed by the Trump administration which sought revisions of what was claimed to have been classified information, citing national security concerns.
The sources told the outlet that the process by the White House of filing a lawsuit might take place in the few coming days or even as soon as Monday.
Last week, the White House National Security Council, in possession of a prepublication security revision of the book, claimed that Bolton’s manuscript contains “significant amounts” of classified material, arguing, “The unauthorised disclosure of classified information could be exploited by a foreign power”.
An attorney for the former Trump appointee, Charles Cooper, rejected the allegation, however, noting that no material cited in the book “could reasonably be considered classified”.
The White House is, according to reports, to hand Bolton's representatives a redacted copy of the manuscript by 19 June, just four days before the planned date of release.
Bolton had been requested by Trump to leave the office of White House National Security Advisor on 10 September 2019 in the wake of failed peace negotiations between the US and the Taliban*. The president said at the time that he “disagreed strongly” with many of Bolton’s suggestions.
*Taliban is a terrorist group band in Russia and many other countries.