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Bolton’s Attorney Responds to NSC’s Threat to Block Book over ‘Classified Information’

John Bolton, then national security adviser to President Trump, speaks during a press briefing at the White House on November 27, 2018. (Kevin Lamarque / Reuters)

John Bolton’s attorney said Wednesday that the National Security Council had given him “no response” after he replied to a White House letter which threatened to block publication of Bolton’s upcoming memoir over concerns that it contains “significant amounts of classified information.”

Charles Cooper, Bolton’s attorney, emailed a reply on January 24 to the National Security Council’s Records Management Division, citing Bolton’s potential testimony as the reason why “it is imperative that we have the results of your review” of Bolton’s book, The Room Where It Happened: A White House Memoir.

“It is important to note that I have received no response whatever to my urgent request for the NSC’s immediate guidance as to any concerns it may have with respect to the chapter of the manuscript dealing with Ambassador Bolton’s involvement in matters relating to Ukraine,” Cooper said in a statement Wednesday.

On January 23, the NSC had said that the draft of Bolton’s book contained classified information “at the TOP SECRET level” and could “cause exceptionally grave harm to the national security.”

“The manuscript may not be published or otherwise disclosed without the deletion of this classified information,” the administration wrote in the letter, citing federal law and a non-disclosure agreement Bolton signed.

The NSC letter was reported Wednesday, and deputy White House counsel Patrick Philbin later read it into the Senate’s impeachment trial record. 

Bolton’s book, scheduled for release March 17, made headlines on Sunday when the New York Times reported that Bolton states in the memoir that President Trump told him in August that the provision of $391 million in military aid to Ukraine was contingent on the opening of an investigation into Joe Biden.

The news threw an upcoming trial vote on additional witnesses into turmoil, after Republicans appeared confident that no new testimony would be subpoenaed. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell reportedly told the caucus Tuesday that he did not have the 51 votes needed to block new witnesses.

Bolton has said he is willing to appear before the Senate for testimony if subpoenaed.

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