The Justice Department has opened a criminal investigation into the publication of former national security adviser John Bolton’s highly critical book about his time working for President Donald Trump, multiple media reported on Tuesday.
The Justice Department summoned a grand jury and subpoenaed publisher Simon & Schuster for documents as it investigates whether Bolton, author of “The Room Where it Happened”, mishandled classified information, according to reports of The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal.
The DOJ has also reportedly subpoenaed Javelin, Bolton’s literary agency, for documents.
The subpoenas cover all communications between Bolton and the two companies, the Journal reported. Bolton was not subpoenaed, according to the outlet.
Charles Cooper, an attorney for Bolton, told CNBC in a statement he had seen the reports of the grand jury summons.
“Ambassador Bolton categorically rejects any claim that he acted inappropriately, let alone criminally, in connection with the publication of his book, and he will cooperate fully, as he has done throughout, with any investigation. official on his conduct, “Cooper said.
The book was published in June, after a federal judge rejected the DOJ’s request to block its publication.
The Justice Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the reports. Simon & Schuster declined to comment.
The criminal investigation was made public just seven weeks before Trump was re-elected against his Democratic rival Joe Biden. Trump, who has faced allegations of mismanagement and worse from a number of former close advisers, said Bolton’s book contains lies “all intended to make me look bad.”
Lawyers for the National Security Council and the Justice Department have debated whether opening the investigation would be considered political, according to the Times, which cited unnamed officials. But some of the lawyers, according to the Times, pointed to comments from a federal judge in June, who said the Justice Department’s case seeking to stop the publication of Bolton’s book had valid points.
United States District Court Judge Royce Lamberth wrote in a June ruling against the DOJ that while he didn’t stop the press from saying everything about Bolton, Bolton had nonetheless “played with national security of the United States “and” exposed his country to evil. and himself to civil (and potentially criminal) liability. “
Bolton, since the publication of the memoir, has defended himself from criticism from all political backgrounds. Democrats excoriated Bolton for accusing them in the book of “impeachment misconduct” after he refused to testify in the impeachment proceedings against Trump. The president was impeached in the House for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, but was acquitted in the Senate.
Republicans, meanwhile, attacked Bolton like a disgruntled ex-employee who was simply trying to take advantage of his position in power.
“The room where it happened” made a series of damning allegations about Trump, including asking Chinese President Xi Jinping to help him win re-election.
The book was among Amazon’s bestsellers even before its release and would have sold 780,000 copies in its first week.
Trump tweeted on June 23 that Bolton “is a lowlife who should be in jail, money seized, for releasing highly classified information for profit.”
Trump in April 2018 had brought in Bolton to succeed HR McMaster as national security adviser. The president’s first choice for the role, Michael Flynn, had been fired for Trump’s presidency less than a month ago.
Bolton had served until September 2019. Trump tweeted upon his dismissal of Bolton, “I strongly disagree with many of his suggestions.” Bolton, however, said he had “offered to resign”.
Earlier this month, Bolton continued to criticize his former boss, telling CNBC that the administration’s “utter lack of strategy” in handling the coronavirus pandemic “has made the situation far worse than it has been. ‘could have been and could herald even more damage.
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