Jan 29, 2020

White House says Bolton book contains top secret information

Photo: Oliver Contreras/For The Washington Post via Getty Images

The White House says that former national security adviser John Bolton's book contains top secret information in a letter addressed to his attorney that was publicly released Wednesday.

The state of play: The development, first reported by CNN's Jake Tapper, sets up a potential legal battle between Bolton and the White House over the book's publication, which is currently scheduled for March 17.

  • The letter, dated Jan. 23, claims the book contains "significant amounts of classified information" that could "cause exceptionally grave harm" to U.S. national security.
  • It was signed by Ellen Knight, the National Security Council's senior director for records, access and information security management.
  • The letter says, "the manuscript may not be published or otherwise disclosed without the deletion of this classified information" and that the White House will be in touch with "additional, more detailed guidance regarding next steps" on how to move forward.

The big picture: It comes amid an ongoing battle over whether to call Bolton as a witness in President Trump's Senate impeachment trial after the manuscript's account of the Ukraine saga leaked to the New York Times.

  • Trump chimed in regarding Bolton on Twitter Wednesday, saying the U.S. "would be in World War Six by now" if he had listened to his former national security head during his tenure.
  • The president also foreshadowed this decision about Bolton's "nasty & untrue" book, which was submitted last month to the White House for pre-publication review, claiming it contained "All Classified National Security."

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Bolton's lawyer: Manuscript could not reasonably be considered classified

President Trump and John Bolton. Photo: Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images

The lawyer for former national security adviser John Bolton responded on Wednesday to the White House's claim that a manuscript of Bolton's forthcoming book contains top-secret information.

What they're saying: Charles Cooper wrote in a letter, "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. Please do give me a call to let me know how we can work together toward that end."

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Bolton indicates more Ukraine details if book prevails over WH "censorship"

Former national security adviser John Bolton on stage at Duke University on Monday. Photo: Melissa Sue Gerrits/Getty Images

Former national security adviser John Bolton said during a talk at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina, he hopes his new book is "not suppressed" by the White House, according to journalists present in the room.

This is an effort to write history and I did it the best I can. We'll have to see what comes out of the censorship."
— JohnBolton's comments, per Bloomberg and the New York Times

Trump: "We would be in World War Six by now" with Bolton

Photo: Leon Neal/Getty Images

President Trump tweeted biting remarks targeting his former national security advisor John Bolton, claiming without evidence that if he'd listened to Bolton the U.S. "would be in World War Six by now."

"For a guy who couldn't get approved for the Ambassador to the U.N. years ago, couldn’t get approved for anything since, “begged” me for a non Senate approved job, which I gave him despite many saying “Don’t do it, sir,” takes the job, mistakenly says “Libyan Model” on T.V., and many more mistakes of judgement, gets fired because frankly, if I listened to him, we would be in World War Six by now, and goes out and IMMEDIATELY writes a nasty & untrue book. All Classified National Security. Who would do this?"
— President Trump on Twitter
Go deeperArrowJan 29, 2020