Donald Trump has threatened his former national security adviser, John Bolton, with a vague "criminal problem" if the former national security adviser proceeds to publish a memoir that describes the president's foreign policy as perilous, self-serving, and possibly unlawful.
While Trump pointed to Attorney General William Barr as the source of any potential charges against Bolton, he strongly suggested that his estranged adviser will encounter imminent legal problems. "We'll see what happens. They're in court — or they'll soon be in court," Trump said about the book, set to be released early next week.
Trump claimed that Bolton failed to complete a required pre-publication review of the manuscript to remove any classified material. But Bolton attorney Chuck Cooper says his client went over the book for several months with National Security Council officials, making changes to avoid the release of classified information.
Unsurprisingly, Barr echoed Trump during a White House event on Monday.
"We don't believe that Bolton went through that process — hasn't completed the process — and, therefore, is in violation of that agreement," said Barr. Administration officials are "trying to get [Bolton] to complete the process — go through the process — and make the necessary deletions of classified information," he added.
Originally Bolton's book, titled The Room Where It Happened: A White House Memoir, was scheduled for release in March. Publisher Simon & Schuster now says it will be released next week.
"Bolton covers an array of topics — chaos in the White House, sure, but also assessments of major players, the president's inconsistent, scattershot decision-making process, and his dealings with allies and enemies alike, from China, Russia, Ukraine, North Korea, Iran, the United Kingdom, France, and Germany," according to Simon & Schuster. The release quotes Bolton writing, "I am hard-pressed to identify any significant Trump decision during my tenure that wasn't driven by reelection calculations."
In a recent Wall Street Journal op-ed essay, Cooper charged the White House with using the review process to protect Trump from embarrassment. "This is a transparent attempt to use national security as a pretext to censor Mr. Bolton, in violation of his constitutional right to speak on matters of the utmost public import," he wrote. "This attempt will not succeed, and Mr. Bolton's book will be published June 23."
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