Bolton book remains stuck in White House classification review

Image: John Bolton speaks to reporters at the White House on May 1, 2019.
John Bolton speaks to reporters at the White House on May 1, 2019. Copyright Kevin Lamarque Reuters file
By Carol E. Lee with NBC News Politics
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A Bolton adviser says the delay is "more about suppressing" the former national security adviser's book than concerns over classified information.


DURHAM, N.C. — Former national security adviser John Bolton on Monday is scheduled to deliver his first public remarks since the conclusion of President Donald Trump's impeachment trial.

Bolton's appearance at Duke University comes as one of his aides tells NBC News that it's unclear if his book about his time in the Trump White House — "The Room Where It Happened" — will publish next month as planned. The aide said a White House national security review of the manuscript could push back the book's March 17 publication date.

Bolton also is scheduled to speak publicly on Wednesday at Vanderbilt University.

He and the White House have been at odds for nearly two months over the publication of his book. The White House has said it contains classified information. But Bolton, who also wrote a book about his time in the Bush administration as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, has maintained that there is nothing classified in his book.

When Bolton submitted his book to the White House in December for a standard national security review his lawyer, Charles Cooper, wrote in a letter that the former national security adviser was not required to do so but was out of an abundance of caution.

After parts of his book leaked to the media, Bolton's team said the White House review process had been corrupted.

"We continue to believe that the manuscript contains no legitimately classified material," Sarah Tinsley, a senior adviser to Bolton, recently said in a statement. She expressed concern that the review process "is more about suppressing Ambassador Bolton's book than about classification issues."

One possibility is the White House has or will retroactively classify information in Bolton's book.

A longtime fixture in the Republican Party, Bolton recently became a target for Trump and his allies after revelations that he would directly link the president to the White House's pressure campaign on Ukraine. The New York Times has reported that Bolton writes in his book that Trump sought his help with his Ukraine pressure campaign.

Bolton offered to testifyin the president's impeachment trial, where he would have provided a first-hand account of the Trump's decision to withhold U.S. aid to Ukraine in exchange for its government announcing an investigation into his political rivals. But Senate Republicans rejected the idea and acquitted Trump of charges that he abused the power of his office by pressuring Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy to announce a corruption investigation into former Vice President Joe Biden's son, Hunter.

Biden is running in the Democratic primary to challenge Trump in the November election.

Bolton left the White House in September on contentious terms with Trump. He said he resigned, while the president said he was fired. He served 17 months as Trump's national security adviser.

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