The Trump Administration Is Still Obsessing Over John Bolton’s Book
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The Justice Department has launched a criminal investigation into Trump’s former national security adviser over his tell-all.

For much of the spring, the White House’s fight to prevent a damning, unflattering portrayal of Donald Trump from publication compelled the political class to keep John Bolton top of mind. When the former national security adviser finally came out with The Room Where It Happened, and the news nuggets about Trump’s incompetence and fondness for dictators had been mined from the book and Bolton’s media tour, it seemed he might finally retreat from the spotlight.

Unfortunately, the Trump administration isn’t letting that happen. According to the New York Times, Trumpworld will continue the battle over the Bolton book, with the Department of Justice now opening a criminal investigation into the tell-all and whether the ex-Trump official disclosed classified information in its pages. William Barr’s DOJ has convened a grand jury as part of the probe, sources familiar with the matter told the Times, and subpoenaed records from Bolton’s publisher, Simon & Schuster. Bolton’s literary agent was also subpoenaed, the Wall Street Journal reported.

The subpoenas, issued Monday, constitute an intensification of the administration’s feud with the former national security adviser. They’re likely to open Barr’s Justice Department up to accusations that it’s seeking political retribution on behalf of the president, who called for Bolton to be jailed over the summer and has continued to attack him post-publication. “Bolton was such a jerk!” Trump tweeted last week.

During the months-long feud over the White House memoir earlier this year, the administration sought to block the book’s release by claiming it contained classified material. Bolton, though, insisted that his book was clean and that the administration was using claims of sensitive materials as an excuse to keep it off shelves. By the time it was released in June, questions about classification ceased to matter because so much of the book had appeared in media reports. A judge allowed it to be released on the grounds that the “damage is done” but did note that Bolton may have opened himself up to legal liability. That suggests the DOJ may have a case, though the Times reports that several DOJ and National Security Council attorneys were reticent to take up such an investigation because doing so would inevitably seem politically-motivated.

https://twitter.com/realdonaldtrump/status/1273468029712707584

If Bolton is ultimately charged, he’d be the latest in a long line of former high-ranking Trump officials to run afoul of the law—though in this case the president would presumably welcome legal action. Since leaving the administration, Bolton has been a pain for the president, sounding off on his judgment and character and confirming that Trump attempted to strongarm Ukraine into announcing politically-motivated investigations—one of the high crimes and misdemeanors at the center of his impeachment, which Bolton has said didn’t go far enough. But Bolton refused to testify in those proceedings, saving the juice for his book published half a year later. Bolton has insisted his testimony wouldn’t have changed things, and perhaps he’s right. But that doesn’t really delegitimize criticisms that he withheld information that could have informed Democrats’ impeachment proceedings.

Ultimately, Bolton’s assessment of Trump’s character was overshadowed by psychology professor Mary L. Trump’s scathing account of her uncle in Too Much and Never Enough. It was then superseded by the president himself, who admitted to downplaying the coronavirus pandemic in conversations with veteran journalist Bob Woodward for Rage. In tapes released by Woodward, Trump is heard bluntly discussing the scope of the threat posed by the novel coronavirus. “I wanted to always play it down,” the president explained. With said virus continuing to rage, not to mention half the west coast on fire, it would seem the nation is suffering enough without having to recall Bolton. But in probing his book, and raising all sorts of questions about the politicization of the DOJ and the president’s thirst for revenge, the administration has ensured that Bolton will maintain at least a shred of relevance.

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From: VANITYFAIR