- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 15, 2020

The Justice Department has opened a criminal investigation into whether the publication of former National Security Adviser John R. Bolton’s book disclosed classified information, according to multiple news reports.

As part of that probe, a federal grand jury has issued subpoenas aimed at determining whether the former top Trump administration official mishandled classified documents, The New York Times and Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday.

Mr. Bolton’s publisher Simon & Schuster and Javelin, his literary agency, have been subpoenaed for documents, the outlets said. The subpoenas reportedly seek all communications between Mr. Bolton and the two companies.

Mr. Bolton has not been subpoenaed, the Journal reported.Charles J. Cooper, an attorney for Mr. Bolton, said he was “aware” of the media reports.

“Ambassador Bolton emphatically rejects any claim that he acted improperly, let alone criminally, in connection with the publication of his book, and he will cooperate fully, as he has throughout, with any official inquiry into his conduct,” Mr. Cooper said in a statement.

The Times reported that the investigation was opened based on a referral from Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe. The move prompted the head of the Justice Department’s national security division to open a criminal investigation, a source told the newspaper.Neither the Justice Department nor Simon & Schuster responded to requests for comment.

The book, “The Room Where it Happened,” was released in June after a federal judge denied the Justice Department’s request to block its publication. It is a stinging critique of Mr. Trump’s handling of national security issues.

At the time, the government argued Mr. Bolton was required to wait until the White House finished reviewing the book for classified information because he had a top-level security clearance. Justice Department lawyers accused Mr. Bolton of pushing ahead with the book and its release before the process was complete.

Mr. Cooper responded by accusing the White House of slow-walking the review process and saying that Mr. Bolton only had to wait for a White House official’s confirmation that the book was free of classified information, which he received in April.

The White House said a more senior official needed to conduct a review, which Mr. Cooper slammed as a “transparent effort to prevent Ambassador Bolton from revealing embarrassing facts about the president’s conduct in office.”

U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth ruled in favor of Mr. Bolton, but warned that he “has gambled with the national security of the United States” and “exposed his country to harm and himself to civil (and potentially criminal) liability” for disclosing national security secrets.

President Trump seized on the judge’s decision in a tweet this summer.

“He turned out to be grossly incompetent, and a liar. See judge’s opinion. CLASSIFIED INFORMATION!!” Mr. Trump tweeted.

Mr. Cooper at the time criticized the Justice Department’s efforts to silence his client. He called the lawsuit, “the latest in a long-running series of efforts by the administration to quash publication of a book it deems unflattering to the president.”

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