‘Retaliatory abuse’: Legal experts slam Barr's DOJ for opening ‘politically-motivated’ criminal inquiry into John Bolton
Bill Barr and Donald Trump (AFP)

The Dept. of Justice is opening a criminal inquiry into John Bolton, allegedly to determine whether or not he disclosed classified information in his book, which discusses his 17 months serving as President Donald Trump's National Security Advisor.

"The department has convened a grand jury, which issued a subpoena for communications records from Simon & Schuster, the publisher of Mr. Bolton’s memoir, 'The Room Where It Happened,'" The New York Times reports.

Legal experts, many of whom oppose Bolton for not warning the public about Trump when he was in the administration but waiting so he could publish his book, nevertheless say it looks like "retribution" and a political prosecution of the President's critics.

The Trump administration tried to stop publication of the book, claiming Bolton had not been granted notice that his pre-publication review had been completed. Bolton has claimed he went through proper procedures and denies he published any classified information.

"Mr. Trump has made clear that he wants his former aide prosecuted," The Times notes. "He said on Twitter that Mr. Bolton 'broke the law' and 'should be in jail, money seized, for disseminating, for profit, highly Classified information.' He has also called Mr. Bolton 'a dope,' 'incompetent 'and the book 'a compilation of lies and made up stories, all intended to make me look bad.'"

Trump has tweeted about Bolton more than two dozen times.

Legal experts are weighing in.

MSNBC Justice & Security Analyst, former chief spokesperson for the DOJ:

Former federal prosecutor:

CNN legal analyst, former federal and state prosecutor:

Former attorney in the Office of General Counsel of the National Security Agency, now Executive Editor of Lawfare:

Founder and award-winning editor at Talking Points Memo:

Professor in Law at the University of Texas School of Law, CNN contributor:

Attorney, analyst, author:

Former Deputy Legal Director at ACLU, current director, Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University:

Former CIA intelligence officer, current Georgetown University School of Foreign Service lecturer and NBC News national security and intelligence analyst: