The Justice Department has closed its investigation and dropped its pending lawsuit against John Bolton over the claims that the publication of his tell-all book about his time as President Trump’s national security adviser disclosed classified information.
The lawsuit was brought under Attorney General Bill Barr’s Justice Department, which sued Bolton for the profits he made from the bestselling book, which painted an unflattering picture of his former White House boss, Mr. Trump.
“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,” Bolton’s lawyer Charles Cooper said in a statement. “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.”
The Justice Department declined to comment.
It sued Bolton ahead of the publication of “The Room Where it Happened,” which was published by Simon & Schuster, a division of ViacomCBS, in June 2020. The judge declined to stop the book’s release, but ruled that the department could pursue Bolton’s profits.
In just the first week of its publication, the book sold 780,000 copies.
In September, CBS News learned that the Justice Department had opened a criminal inquiry into whether Bolton had published classified information when it claimed he had failed to complete a prepublication review.
Ellen Knight, the former senior director for Records Access and Information Security Management at the National Security Council (NSC) who led the prepublication review of Bolton’s book, claimed in a court filing there had been “unprecedented” involvement by political appointees in the White House who “commandeered” what is supposed to be an apolitical process.
In describing the vetting process, Knight said that Bolton’s manuscript initially contained “voluminous amounts of classified information and that it would take a significant effort to put it into publishable shape.” But after working closely and speaking extensively with Bolton and his lawyer, Charles Cooper, Knight concluded that “all classification concerns had been addressed and that publication of the manuscript, as heavily revised, would disclose no information that would cause harm to our national security.”
In October a federal judge declined to dismiss the case at Bolton’s request, finding hat the government proved that the publication of Bolton’s book, “The Room Where it Happened,” improperly “breached his prepublication review and predisclosure consultation obligations” and “his nondisclosure obligations.”