The Trump administration threatened to block publication of John Bolton’s book unless the former national security adviser deletes information they deemed “classified.”
In a letter to Bolton’s attorney Charles Cooper, White House security officials said it determined that the book – news of which roiled President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial – includes “top secret” items that could undermine national security. They did not specify what those passages were, the USA Today reports.
Cooper disputed the assertion that Bolton included classified information in the book. “We do not believe that any of that information could reasonable be considered classified,” Bolton’s attorney said in an email to a National Security Council official and released to reporters Wednesday.
Under commitments Bolton made when he accepted the job as Trump’s national security adviser, the letter says, “the manuscript may not be published or otherwise disclosed without the deletion of this classified information.”
The NSC said it would work with Bolton on revisions to the book, which has prompted demands for his testimony in the Senate impeachment trial.
Bolton’s team submitted the manuscript to the NSC a month ago for a standard review to see whether the book contains information that should not be made public.
“The manuscript appears to contain significant amounts of classified information,” states the White House reply, released Wednesday and signed by Ellen Knight, senior director for records, access and information security management.
Administration officials said Trump and his legal team have not seen the Bolton manuscript and did not participate in the review.
In the submission to the NSC, Cooper said he and associates did not believe the book contained any classified information.
According to a New York Times story published Sunday, Bolton wrote in the book that Trump demanded Ukraine investigate a political rival in exchange for foreign aid, an accusation that is central to the impeachment case against the president.