Former National Security Adviser John Bolton is set to release a memoir of his time in President Donald Trump’s White House in the coming months, and it was recently revealed that his manuscript was subject to a review by the National Security Council (NSC) before it could be cleared for publication.
According to The Hill, Bolton and his attorney were informed about a week ago that, in its current form, the manuscript cannot move forward due to the fact that it contains “significant amounts of classified information” that have not been authorized for release to the American public.
“Top Secret” material in Bolton book
In a brief letter dated Jan. 23, 2020, Ellen Knight, the senior director of Records, Access, and Information Security Management at the NSC, explained to Bolton attorney Charles Cooper the main issues preventing publication of the manuscript and offered assistance to rectify the problems.
“Based on our preliminary review, the manuscript appears to contain significant amounts of classified information,” Knight wrote.
She noted that some of the classified information rose to the level of “Top Secret” and “reasonably could be expected to cause exceptionally grave harm to the national security” of the country unless proper authorization had been obtained for its disclosure.
“Under federal law and the nondisclosure agreements your client signed as a condition for gaining access to classified information, the manuscript may not be published or otherwise disclosed without the deletion of this classified information,” the NSC official stated.
NSC offers assistance
Some liberal media outlets and reporters jumped on the letter as being of a “threatening” nature and an overt attempt to intimidate or punish Bolton in the aftermath of the recent leak to The New York Times of allegations reported to be contained in the book.
But as The Hill and many others pointed out, the letter wasn’t a threat at all, but simply a routine notice sent as part of the standard review process conducted by the NSC. Furthermore, the letter was sent and received three days prior to publication of The New York Times about what was purportedly included in Bolton’s book.
In addition, far from being a blanket denial of Bolton’s ability to publish his memoir, Knight noted that the manuscript was still under review and the NSC would “do [its] best to assist” Bolton in removing the classified material so that the book could eventually be released “as expeditiously as possible.”
Knight wrote: “We will do our best to work with you to ensure your client’s ability to tell his story in a manner that protects U.S. national security.”
It remains unclear how much longer the NSC’s review process will take, and The Hill noted that Bolton’s attorney sent a letter back to Knight requesting the process be completed quickly, on the chance that Bolton could be subpoenaed to testify in the ongoing impeachment trial.
As things stand right now, it seems unlikely that Bolton will actually be subpoenaed. In other words, this standard notice about the ongoing review process of Bolton’s manuscript most likely has little or no bearing on the ongoing impeachment trial, despite mainstream media efforts to link them.