US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has compared John Bolton, Trump’s former foreign policy hawk gone rogue, to whistleblower Edward Snowden and threatened him with legal action over the upcoming publication of his memoir.
“The information that he’s released puts criminal liability squarely on him,” Pompeo told Fox News’ Sean Hanity on Monday.
“We all saw what’s happened when people leak classified information like Edward Snowden. What John Bolton did here is not dissimilar from that, and while we will leave open for the Justice Department to take its action, this kind of information getting out – it presents real risk and real harm to the United States of America.”
“The president and others, myself included, had to cut him out of meetings," Pompeo said of Bolton, “because he was leaking or he would twist things or he’d lie.”
Snowden famously leaked top-secret documents from the eavesdropping National Security Agency, which exposed mass surveillance programmes run by the US government and its allies. He has been hiding out in Russia for seven years now and is wanted in the United States on espionage charges.
John Bolton, Trump’s former national security adviser, was ousted from office last September over disagreements with the president regarding foreign policy. There has been word that the hardline Iran policy ideologue specifically clashed with Trump over the president’s suggestion to ease sanctions against the country.
The Room Where It Happened, a tell-all book about Bolton’s White House stint, is scheduled to come out on 23 June. It alleges that foreign leaders hold Trump in low regard and try to manipulate him, while the president is obsessed with re-election and has tailored his foreign policy to help him win the second term.
Mike Pompeo was cited in the book as calling Donald Trump “so full of sh*t”, a charge he strongly denied. Both Pompeo and Trump have claimed the book is made up of “lies” and “falsehoods”.
The Justice Department last week tried to halt the release, citing unlawful disclosure of classified information. The White House also accused Bolton of failing to complete a pre-publication review process which is required for some government officials writing about their service.
Bolton’s attorney argued that the book went through a pre-publication review by career White House official Ellen Knight. According to the lawyer, however, the administration never sent a final approval letter clearing the book but told publishers to go ahead anyway.
Meanwhile, the White House opened an additional review of the manuscript by a National Security Council official, Michael T. Ellis, who claimed to have identified at least six examples of classified information there.
A judge concluded that Bolton had “gambled” with US national security and exposed the country to “harm and himself to civil (and potentially criminal) liability” by disclosing the information in violation of his NDA.
However, Bolton was allowed to proceed with the publication because the judge ruled that it was too late for a restraining order, with thousands of advance copies of the book already out for sale.