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John Bolton's book "The Room Where it Happened." Photo: Chris Delmas/AFP via Getty Images

A former career official at the National Security Council claims her pre-publication review of former national security adviser John Bolton's explosive book on President Trump was "commandeered by political appointees for a seemingly political purpose," according to a letter from her lawyers filed in court on Tuesday.

Why it matters: The White House fought against the publication of Bolton's book for most of the year on the grounds that it contained harmful and "significant amounts of classified information."

  • According to Knight's lawyers, White House aides falsely asserted that details in the book were classified to keep it from being published, the New York Times reports.
  • Bolton has similarly alleged that the White House abused the prepublication review process to prevent the disclosure of embarrassing information about Trump.

What they're saying: "Ms. Knight asked the attorneys how it could be appropriate that a designedly apolitical process had been commandeered by political appointees for a seemingly political purpose," her lawyers write in the filing.

  • "The attorneys had no answer for her challenges, aside from a rote recitation of the government’s legal position that Ambassador Bolton had violated his contractual obligations by failing to wait for written clearance."
  • "However, when Ms. Knight speculated that this litigation was happening “because the most powerful man in the world said that it needed to happen,” several registered their agreement with that diagnosis of the situation."

"Over the course of five days and a total of 18 hours of meetings, a rotating cast of Justice Department and White House attorneys tried to persuade Ms. Knight to sign a declaration they wanted to file with their lawsuit against Ambassador Bolton," the filing continues.

  • Knight says that after she declined, voicing concerns about "the fairness and objectivity of the process," she received an automated email informing her that her detail at the NSC would be ending in 60 days.

The other side: "We disagree strongly with Ms. Knight’s assertion that additional review of the Bolton manuscript was somehow politically motivated," NSC spokesman John Ullyot said in an emailed statement.

  • "Multiple high-ranking officials charged with protecting the sort of classified information contained in the manuscript disagreed with Ms. Knight’s conclusion that Bolton’s manuscript contained no classified information," Ullyot said, adding that officials — including the director of the National Security Agency — "had access to more information" than Knight, an expert in government classification.
  • The White House declined to comment.

Catch up quick: Bolton alleges in his book that President Trump tied the freezing of $391 million in security aid to Ukraine to demands for investigations into former Vice President Joe Biden — a core allegation in the impeachment of the president. Trump has strongly denied the claim.

  • Bolton also writes that Trump asked President Xi Jinping to increase Chinese agricultural purchases in order to improve his electoral prospects in farm states, and that Trump encouraged Xi to continue building detention camps for ethnic minorities.
  • Trump has denied both claims and said Bolton would have "strong criminal problems" if he moved forward with publishing the book.

What to watch: The Justice Department has reportedly convened a grand jury to criminally investigate whether Bolton disclosed classified information.

Read the letter.

Go deeper: Highlights from the excerpts of John Bolton's book

Go deeper

The top Republicans who aren't voting for Trump in 2020

Photo: Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan said last week that he cannot support President Trump's re-election.

Why it matters: Hogan, a moderate governor in a blue state, joins other prominent Republicans who have publicly said they will either not vote for Trump's re-election this November or will back Biden.

Updated 29 mins ago - World

Mexican President López Obrador tests positive for coronavirus

Mexico's President Andrés Manuel López Obrador during a press conference at National Palace in Mexico City, Mexico, on Wednesday. Photo: Ismael Rosas/Eyepix Group/Barcroft Media via Getty Images

Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador announced Sunday evening that he's tested positive for COVID-19.

Driving the news: López Obrador tweeted that he has mild symptoms and is receiving medical treatment. "As always, I am optimistic," he added. "We will all move forward."

45 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Sarah Huckabee Sanders to run for governor of Arkansas

Sarah Huckabee Sanders at FOX News' studios in New York City in 2019. Photo: Steven Ferdman/Getty Images

Former White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders will announce Monday that she's running for governor of Arkansas.

The big picture: Sanders was touted as a contender after it was announced she was leaving the Trump administration in June 2019. Then-President Trump tweeted he hoped she would run for governor, adding "she would be fantastic." Sanders is "seen as leader in the polls" in the Republican state, notes the Washington Post's Josh Dawsey, who first reported the news.