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White House Trying to Block Bolton from Publishing Book by Saying it Contains Classified Info

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White House Trying to Block Bolton from Publishing Book by Saying it Contains Classified Info

2020-01-30 10:35:251 Oct 2018 01:53 AM EST

By Laura Tucker, Staff writer; Image: John Bolton (Image source: Screenshot)

The White House appears to be very worried about the information contained in former national security adviser John Bolton's upcoming book. The question is whether the concern is for the classified information Bolton included in the book or whether the concern is for what damaging information may be in the book that could help the chances of Donald Trump being impeached.

The New York Times printed information from Bolton's unpublished manuscript on Sunday night. The most damaging bit of information was his admission that Trump told him he wanted to withhold aid to Ukraine until the investigations he was looking for were publicly announced. 

This is, of course, after Bolton had previously admitted that he would be willing to testify in the Senate impeachment trial if he was subpoenaed. Before the trial started and before his information, there seemed little chance the Republican senators would allow that, but now there is grumbling within the group with some who are considering opening up the trial to witnesses and new evidence, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) admitted the other night that he doesn't have the votes to not allow witnesses.

The White House is now trying to stop Bolton's book, "The Room Where It Happened: A White House Memoir," from being published. According to sources familiar with the matter, Bolton's attorney received a formal threat from the White House. A top official with the National Security Council wrote that the manuscript "appears to contain significant amounts of classified information" and that it cannot be published as is. 

The letter was dated January 23 and states that some of the information in the book is classified at the "top secret" level, which means it "reasonably could be expected to cause exceptionally grave harm to the national security."

"The manuscript may not be published or otherwise disclosed without the deletion of this classified information," read the letter. 

Charles Cooper, Bolton's attorney, released a follow-up letter later on Wednesday that he sent to the National Security Council regarding the manuscript.

"As you are no doubt aware, the House managers in the Senate impeachment trial have made clear their intention to seek Ambassador Bolton's testimony at trial, and although no one yet knows whether the Senate will subpoena him to testify, he is preparing for that possibility," he had written Friday in an email to the official at the National Security Council. 

'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," continued Cooper.

"We do not believe that any of that information could reasonably be considered classified, but given that Ambassador Bolton could be called to testify as early as next week, it is imperative that we have the results of your review of that chapter as soon as possible." 

Cooper added in a statement that accompanied the letter that he had "received no response whatever to my urgent request for the NSC's immediate guidance as to any concerns it may have with respect to the chapter of the manuscript dealing with Ambassador Bolton's involvement in matters relating to Ukraine."

He was also accusing the White House of corrupting the vetting process for Bolton's book by sharing the contents with people outside the National Security Council's Records Management Division. 

Trump attacked Bolton, whom he fired after the Ukraine scandal went public, on Twitter on Wednesday. He asked why he didn't "complain about this 'nonsense' a long time ago when he was very publicly terminated. He said, not that it matters, NOTHING!"

The president went on to note he couldn't get approved as ambassador to the U.N. nor anything since, " 'begged' me for a non-Senate-approved job, which I gave him despite many saying, 'Don't do it, sir.' " He added that he fired him because "if I [had] listened to him, we would be in World War Six by now." 

While Bolton has said he would be willing to testify if subpoenaed, Trump has suggested he may try to assert executive privilege and block the testimony, yet legal experts say Trump's tweets describing his conversations with Bolton regarding Ukraine might undermine any attempts to assert that privilege.

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