DOJ Drops Suit, Criminal Probe Over Bolton’s Trump Tell-All

The Justice Department is dropping a lawsuit and criminal investigation of former national security advisor John Bolton over a 2020 White House memoir that depicted then-President Donald Trump as ignorant and reckless.

In a court filing in Washington on Wednesday, lawyers for the government and Bolton said they’d agreed to end a year-long legal battle over whether Bolton disclosed top-secret information that he had pledged to protect. The move allows the former White House official to keep the profits from his book,“The Room Where It Happened.” Bolton’s lawyer, Charles Cooper, said in a separate statement that the government was also dropping a criminal probe.

“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,” said Cooper. “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 originally sued in June 2020 to block the book’s publication, claiming it would endanger national security. But U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth allowed the book’s release in part because excerpts had already begun to appear in newspapers.

In his book, Bolton claimed that Trump admired dictators and expressed approval of Chinese leader Xi Jinping’s construction of concentration camps for his country’s Uighur minority. Bolton also wrote that Trump lacked basic knowledge about world affairs and was mocked behind his back by other members of his administration. In an interview about the book last June, Bolton said Trump was unfit to be president.

The Trump administration subsequently sued to seize Bolton’s profits from the book, claiming he failed to receive written confirmation that the book was free of classified information before publishing it.

Bolton submitted the memoir for a security review but went ahead with publication without formal approval, claiming at the time that the U.S. was dragging its feet to prevent embarrassing revelations about the president.

Cooper argued that neither of the two nondisclosure agreements that his client signed required him to receive written approval to publish the memoir, or even to submit the manuscript for review in the first place.

The litigation entered the discovery phase earlier this year. A deadline for the submission of a discovery plan had been set for June 4. Earlier this year, the Justice Department also dropped a suit accusing Stephanie Winston Wolkoff, a former aide to Melania Trump who wrote an unflattering tell-all about the former First Lady, of violating a confidentiality agreement.

The case is U.S. v. Bolton, 20-cv-1580, U.S. District Court, District of Columbia (Washington).

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