Justice Department drops Trump-era investigation of John Bolton over tell-all book

WASHINGTON – The Justice Department has closed its probe into whether John Bolton inappropriately disclosed classified information in his tell-all memoir and dropped a parallel lawsuit against the former Trump administration national security adviser, a spokeswoman for Bolton said Wednesday.

The Trump administration initially tried to block Bolton from publishing the book, “The Room Where It Happened,” which portrayed Trump as erratic, uninformed and driven solely by self-interest. When that failed, the Justice Department sued Bolton and opened a grand jury investigation into whether Bolton unlawfully disclosed classified information. 

Those matters were passed on to the Biden administration and his attorney general, Merrick Garland, in January. A Justice Department spokesperson confirmed the lawsuit had been dropped but declined further comment.

But Sarah Tinsley, an aide to Bolton, said his office had been notified that both matters were now closed by the federal court handling the cases.  

“We are very pleased that the Department of Justice has dismissed with prejudice its civil lawsuit against Ambassador Bolton and has terminated grand jury proceedings,” she said.

“We argued from the outset that neither action was justifiable, because they were initiated only as a result of President Trump’s politically motivated order to prevent publication of the Ambassador’s book before the 2020 election,” she said. 

Bolton left the Trump administration after clashes over a spate of foreign policy issues, and former President Donald Trump publicly warned his one-time aide against publishing the memoir. 

“I will consider every conversation with me as president highly classified,” Trump said last summer. “If the book gets out, he’s broken the law and I would think he would have criminal problems. I hope so.” 

The book was highly unflattering of Trump. Among other things, Bolton wrote that Trump offered to help Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan with a U.S. investigation into a Turkish state-owned bank and asked Chinese leader Xi Jinping for reelection help.   

“It was breathtaking,” Bolton wrote.

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