On Wednesday, impeached President Donald J. Trump issued a formal demand to cease publication of his former National Security Advisor’s book in a desperation maneuver aimed at keeping a lid on the facts of his scheme to use tax dollars to extort political benefits from Ukraine in exchange for security aid. (Letter embedded below)
The White House has issued a formal threat to former national security adviser John Bolton to keep him from publishing his book, "The Room Where It Happened: A White House Memoir," sources familiar with the matter tell CNN.
— Jake Tapper (@jaketapper) January 29, 2020
Ambassador John Bolton’s forthcoming book is entitled “The Room Where It Happened.”
It’s a title that ironically repurposes one of the hit songs from Hamilton: The Musical, but based on the New York Times‘ recent reporting of its contents, that moniker should serve as an accurate descriptor of its contents confirming suspicions about President Trump’s illegal and impeachable quid pro quo scheme with the Ukrainian government.
But before any book from a senior White House official with security clearance is allowed to be published, it must first go through the classified information review process with the National Security Council’s Records Management Division.
Today, the White House issued its formal demand to stop publication—which has little basis in the law considering the First Amendment’s protections of free speech—and the President took to Twitter to publicly attack Ambassador Bolton, demonstrating that he has inside knowledge of the book’s contents that he should not have.
As you can see from Trump’s Twitter timeline, Trump posted an angry tweet attacking Bolton just past midnight last night, then this morning retweeted himself to try and amplify the message. Story continues below:
It’s no secret that the impeached President Trump and his aides have long “feared” John Bolton’s notes, which as a longtime federal government insider are both comprehensive and extremely useful in the setting of giving sworn testimony.
But lawyer and classified book publishing expert Bradley Moss believes that the White House’s response to the Ambassador’s book is being given too much attention. “This is being blown out of proportion,” says the lawyer. “This letter is nothing out of the ordinary for the prepublication process. It’s just taken on a life of its own because of the political situation.”
Moss is a partner at the Washington law office of Mark S. Zaid, the attorney who represents the whistleblower whose report touched off the ongoing impeachment and trial process.
Senate Republicans want to see Bolton’s manuscript and there’s a debate about Trump’s ability to permit them to review it due to the confidentiality and ironically potential executive privilege protections that could prevent their review.
The former NSA John Bolton’s lawyer did write that he believed none of the book’s contents contained classified information, which means that it may come down to a judgment call by the publisher, Simon & Schuster if they should release the book — which they are allowed to do, because the law is clear that prior restraints generally violate the First Amendment.
However, the former Ambassador would face potential criminal and civil liability if he publishes the book without the White House’s approval, so it’s uncertain what today’s letter means to their proposed March 17th release date.
Here’s the White House’s letter:
Letter to Bolton lawyer pic.twitter.com/ty0OMcoZOl
— Maggie Haberman (@maggieNYT) January 29, 2020
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Grant Stern is an Editor-At-Large for OccupyDemocrats and published author. His new Meet the Candidates 2020 book series is distributed by Simon and Schuster. He's also mortgage broker, community activist and radio personality in Miami, Florida., as well as the producer of the Dworkin Report podcast. Grant is also an occasional contributor to Raw Story, Alternet, and the DC Report, and a senior advisor to the Democratic Coalition