The Justice Department (DOJ) is dropping its lawsuit and criminal investigation related to former White House national security adviser John Bolton’s memoir, which was critical of the Trump administration, The Hill reported on Wednesday.
Two people familiar with the matter told The New York Times that the DOJ had ended the criminal investigation launched in September, and a court filing revealed the agency’s intention to drop the lawsuit that the Biden administration inherited.
Sarah Tinsley, the director of the John Bolton PAC, confirmed to The Hill that the DOJ had informed the US District Court for the District of Columbia that it was dropping the case against Bolton regarding his book, “The Room Where It Happened,” which the Trump DOJ had claimed illegally disclosed classified information.
The Justice Department sued to bar the book’s publication, claiming it contains classified information and that Bolton violated a non-disclosure agreement by writing the book.
A federal US judge later ruled that Bolton can move forward in publishing the tell-all book, though he also made clear his concerns that Bolton had taken it upon himself to publish the memoir without formal clearance from the White House.
Following the ruling, the Trump administration opened a grand jury investigation surrounding the book.
Tinsley told The Hill that the DOJ was now “closing all aspects of the case.”
“These actions represent a complete vindication for Ambassador Bolton, and a repudiation of former President Trump’s attempt, under the pretext of protecting classified information, first to suppress the book’s publication and when that failed in court, to penalize the Ambassador,” she said.
The spokesperson cited previous media reports noting that Trump himself had told people, “We’re going to try and block the publication of the book. After I leave office, he can do this. But not in the White House.”
Charles Cooper, Bolton’s lead attorney, said in a statement shared with The Hill, “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.”
“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,” he added.
“By ending these proceedings without in any way penalizing Ambassador Bolton or limiting his proceeds from the book, the Department of Justice has tacitly acknowledged that President Trump and his White House officials acted illegitimately,” Cooper said.
Bolton, who served for 17 months as Trump’s National Security Advisor before he was fired in September of 2019, penned a 592-page book after his firing.
In the book, Bolton takes frequent jabs at Trump, calling him “erratic” and “foolish” and claimed he behaved “irrationally” and “bizarrely”. “You can’t leave him alone for a minute.”
In one excerpt of the book, Bolton claims that Trump “pleaded” with China’s Xi Jinping during a 2019 summit to help his reelection prospects.
In other sections of the book, Bolton further claimed that then-Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu felt serious concerns regarding Trump’s selection of his son-in-law and adviser Jared Kushner to head up a team charged with drafting the administration’s Middle East peace plan. The claims were rejected by Netanyahu.