Justice Department ends criminal investigation, trial over John Bolton’s book

According to Mr Bolton, the Justice Department has closed its criminal investigation into whether President Donald J. Trump’s National Security Adviser John R. A derogatory memoir by Bolton illegally disclosed classified information and dropped his suit for the purpose of recovering profits from the book. a court filing.

The settlement ends an effort begun under the Trump administration to silence Mr Bolton and prosecute him over the book’s profits. The termination of both the investigation and trial is a clear rebuke by Attorney General Merrick B. Garland for the Trump Justice Department’s strategy in this case.

Mr Bolton’s lawyer, Charles J Cooper, said: “We argued from the outset that none of the actions were justified because they were only initiated as a result of President Trump’s politically motivated order to protect the ambassador’s book before the 2020 election. publication can be stopped.”

By ending the legal action, Cooper said, “the Justice Department has quietly acknowledged that President Trump and his White House officials have committed illegitimate acts.”

A settlement by the Justice Department is likely to save Trump administration officials from being forced to answer questions under oath about their time in office. A federal judge approved Mr. Cooper to begin submitting to those officers, but a settlement would put an end to that trial.

A Justice Department spokesman declined to comment.

Legal action against Mr Bolton last year by Mr Trump publicly and privately by White House aides and Justice Department officials from Mr Bolton publishing his book about his time working in Mr Trump’s White House In June 2020, the Justice Department sued Bolton to stop publication of the memoir and to recover profits from it. sought; a judge ruled that the department could continue to seek profits but could not withhold its publication.

ito was discovered last september That the Justice Department had launched a criminal investigation into whether Mr Bolton had unlawfully disclosed classified information in the book – an investigation that began after the Trump administration failed to block its publication. As part of the investigation, the department issued a grand jury subpoena to the book’s publisher, Simon & Schuster, for communications records regarding the memoir.

Relying on detailed accounts of Bolton’s tenure as national security adviser, the book depicts Trump as a corrupt leader who has put his personal and financial interests above the nation’s national security.

Released in June, it immediately became a bestseller and fed an increasingly damaging narrative about Trump during his re-election campaign. The Justice Department pushed forward its trial by seeking to forfeit Mr Bolton’s profits and a criminal investigation, which included the unusual move to summon Simon & Schuster.

Biden has inherited the case from the Justice Department and has spent recent weeks negotiating the terms of the settlement with Mr Bolton’s legal team, according to a person with knowledge of the matter.

During the presidential transition, Biden advisers investigated a range of difficult issues related to Trump and the Justice Department called on Attorney General William P. Barr, which he was likely to face once he took office.

From an examination of publicly available materials about Mr Bolton’s case, Biden transition advisers concluded that the department had acted in an overly political manner. The department, the advisers argued, could allow the lawsuit to proceed on book profits, but has the potential to highlight uncharacteristic behavior by the Trump White House and the Justice Department. Transition advisers believed it would be unfair to allow a dysfunctional case to proceed to embarrass the Trump administration, and officials recommended the department drop it.

White House efforts to interfere with Mr Bolton’s book came to light in September after a career administration official accused Trump aides of preventing Mr Bolton’s account of his time as Mr Trump’s national security adviser from becoming public. accused of undue interference.

The officer, an expert in reviewing books for classified material named Ellen Knight, said the associates made false claims that Mr Bolton had disclosed classified material and suggested that he did so when he refused to go along. retaliated against him.

He also said an aide to Mr. Bolton to review a chapter on the president’s dealings with Ukraine to prevent it from being released during Mr. Trump’s first impeachment trial “rejects any response”. Directed to withdraw temporarily”. The allegations centered on that he abused his powers in conducting foreign policy with the government in Kiev.

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