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.
Washed up Creepster John Bolton is a lowlife who should be in jail, money seized, for disseminating, for profit, highly Classified information. Remember what they did to the young submarine sailor, but did nothing to Crooked Hillary. I ended up pardoning him – It wasn’t fair!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 23, 2020
….Bolton broke the law and has been called out and rebuked for so doing, with a really big price to pay. He likes dropping bombs on people, and killing them. Now he will have bombs dropped on him!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 20, 2020
Wacko John Bolton’s “exceedingly tedious”(New York Times) book is made up of lies & fake stories. Said all good about me, in print, until the day I fired him. A disgruntled boring fool who only wanted to go to war. Never had a clue, was ostracized & happily dumped. What a dope!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 18, 2020
Legal experts are weighing in.
MSNBC Justice & Security Analyst, former chief spokesperson for the DOJ:
Given the way the administration gamed the review system to prevent the book from being published and then Trump repeatedly called on Bolton to be prosecuted, it’s hard to see this as anything other than direct retaliation. https://t.co/eBTdBds9Hj
— Matthew Miller (@matthewamiller) September 15, 2020
Former federal prosecutor:
This sure looks like retaliation against Bolton for speaking out against Trump. But Bolton put himself at risk and had to expect this was a potential outcome. https://t.co/1Z7jfAoxVh
— Renato Mariotti (@renato_mariotti) September 15, 2020
CNN legal analyst, former federal and state prosecutor:
Using the power of DOJ to protect political allies is unforgivable. But using it to go after perceived political enemies is worse. https://t.co/IKlAv5QPDx
— Elie Honig (@eliehonig) September 15, 2020
Former attorney in the Office of General Counsel of the National Security Agency, now Executive Editor of Lawfare:
This is speculation but my guess based on USG affidavits and Bolton’s book text is that DOJ investigates but doesn’t ultimately charge him. The investigation itself is retaliatory abuse, but the existence of clear criminal predicate will help those at Main Justice sleep at night.
— Susan Hennessey (@Susan_Hennessey) September 15, 2020
Founder and award-winning editor at Talking Points Memo:
— Josh Marshall (@joshtpm) September 15, 2020
Professor in Law at the University of Texas School of Law, CNN contributor:
Bolton deserves nothing but scorn for how he’s behaved, but this is a transparent effort to retaliate against a former senior official for exercising his First Amendment rights and to chill those thinking about similarly coming forward.
It’s going to take a long time to fix DOJ. https://t.co/XtrSiGTDLR
— Steve Vladeck (@steve_vladeck) September 15, 2020
Attorney, analyst, author:
It’s a classic Trump witch-hunt but it couldn’t have happened to a better person. https://t.co/05qwcgGRux
— Amee Vanderpool (@girlsreallyrule) September 15, 2020
Former Deputy Legal Director at ACLU, current director, Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University:
John Bolton is an unlikely poster boy for the First Amendment but his (possible) prosecution will highlight many of the constitutional problems with the prepublication review system and the Espionage Act. Re-upping this, from last year. https://t.co/lzNzQgPu4Q
— Jameel Jaffer (@JameelJaffer) September 15, 2020
Former CIA intelligence officer, current Georgetown University School of Foreign Service lecturer and NBC News national security and intelligence analyst:
Trump is, once again, proving his worst critics correct.
John Bolton, who detailed Trump’s willingness to intervene in criminal investigations, now finds himself on the receiving end of what sure looks like a politically-motivated criminal investigation. https://t.co/oTnhbqAF3F
— Ned Price (@nedprice) September 15, 2020