The last full paragraph of John Bolton’s book observes, “There is no rule of omertà in politics, except perhaps in Chicago.” And I know this because, despite the Trump’s administration’s bid to block publication, the book by the former national security adviser sits next to me as I write this.
Bolton’s reference to a supposed Chicago-style “code of silence” in “The Room Where It Happened, A White House Memoir” — to be released Tuesday — comes in the epilogue. That’s where he defends himself on two fronts:
*Justifying the road he took to avoid testifying during the House impeachment proceedings when his information about President Donald Trump putting a priority on his reelection over U.S. national interests would have been most valuable.
Bolton accuses the Democrat-run House of “committing impeachment malpractice” —acting so fast, they botched making the case against the president. Had the GOP-controlled Senate allowed witnesses during Trump’s Senate trial — and if he testified — Bolton concluded, “It would have made no significant difference in the Senate outcome” – Trump’s acquittal.
*Claiming that he went above and beyond what was required in the Classified Information Non-Disclosure Agreement he signed in making changes to satisfy a prepublication security review.
In order to pass muster, Bolton wrote, in some cases he merely took away the quote marks in passages where he is recounting Trump’s conversations with foreign leaders. Bolton advises the reader, “just put your own quotation marks around the relevant passages; you won’t go wrong.”
Bolton, former United Nations Ambassador under President George W. Bush – with high level posts in the Reagan and Bush I administrations – became Trump’s National Security Adviser on April 9, 2018, serving until Sept. 10, 2019.
The existence of Bolton’s book – and explosive information about Trump — surfaced during the impeachment proceedings, and Bolton wrote in his epilogue it became clear “Trump would do everything he could to prevent” his book from being published, “at least until after the 2020 presidential election.”
The Trump White House efforts to stop publication of Bolton’s book came to a head in a June 16 federal lawsuit filed against Bolton in a Washington, D.C., district court. The lawsuit said contrary to Bolton’s assertions, the prepublication review process was not complete, and that’s why an order was needed to delay the release date.
Last week, as the lawsuit was expedited, scandalous revelations from the book appeared in news reports: Bolton writes about Trump’s penchant to want to interfere with Justice Department probes against Turkey and other nations and to “give personal favors to dictators he liked.” Bolton concluded Trump’s actions amounted to “obstruction of justice as a way of life.”
Bolton’s book is “core political speech,” said a friend-of-the-court brief filed by the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press; the Association of American Publishers; Dow Jones & Company, Inc; The New York Times Company; and The Washington Post and “is entitled to full First Amendment protections against prior restraint, particularly where, as here, it involves newsworthy issues of intense public interest.”
U.S. District Court Judge Royce Lamberth on Saturday denied the federal government’s emergency motion for an order to prevent Tuesday’s book release.
By Saturday, thousands of copies of Bolton’s book, published by Simon & Schuster, had already been distributed, Lamberth noted in his decision.
“For reasons that hardly need to be stated, the Court will not order a nationwide seizure and destruction of a political memoir,” the judge wrote.
“…In taking it upon himself to publish his book without securing final approval from national intelligence authorities, Bolton may indeed have caused the country irreparable harm. But in the Internet age, even a handful of copies in circulation could irrevocably destroy confidentiality. A single dedicated individual with a book in hand could publish its contents far and wide from his local coffee shop.
“With hundreds of thousands of copies around the globe—many in newsrooms—the damage is done. There is no restoring the status quo.”
While Lamberth avoided a call regarding the First Amendment, he did conclude Bolton could face criminal liability, writing “Bolton likely jeopardized national security by disclosing classified information in violation of his nondisclosure agreement obligations.”
Indeed, it looks like Trump will pursue Bolton, saying in a tweet, “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!”
Bolton summed up Trump this way: “I am hard-pressed to identify any significant Trump decision during my tenure that wasn’t driven by re-election calculations.”
That’s in the book. Page 485.