A Justice Department spokeswoman on Wednesday fired back at former National Security Council official Ellen Knight, who earlier in the day accused the Trump administration of trying to squash publication of former National Security Adviser John R. Bolton’s tell-all book.
In a scathing 18-page letter, Ms. Knight’s attorney said the White House slow-walked its review of whether classified information would be disclosed in Mr. Bolton’s book.
Ms. Knight concluded that “a designedly apolitical process had been commandeered by political appointees for a seemingly political purpose,” her attorney, Ken Wainstein, wrote in a legal filing.
The letter slammed the White House’s handling of the review, calling it “unprecedented,” and saying she was kept in the dark for six weeks while a political appointee conducted a “secretive secondary re-review.”
Justice Department spokeswoman Kerri Kupec said Ms. Knight’s letter supports the administration’s claim that Mr. Bolton did not have the authorization to publish his book.
“Ms. Knight’s letter confirms that Mr. Bolton did not receive the appropriate and required written, pre-publication approval, and it is undisputed that the process was not completed at the time Mr. Bolton’s book was released,” Ms. Kupec said in a statement.
“The publication of a memoir by a former National Security Adviser, right after his departure, is an unprecedented action, and it is not surprising that National Security Council staff would pay close attention to ensure that the book does not contain the release of classified information,” the spokesperson continued.
The legal wrangling between Ms. Knight and the administration comes one week after reports surfaced that a federal grand jury has opened a criminal probe into potential disclosures of classified information in Mr. Bolton’s book.