Many happy about Bolton, but Trump totally unhappy - GulfToday

Many happy about Bolton, but Trump totally unhappy


John Bolton

Andrew Feinberg, The Independent

Show a reasonably politically aware American (or occasional cable news viewer) a photo of John Robert Bolton, and depending on their level of engagement with the news — or their political affiliation — they’ll bring up any number of things.

For some, the first thing that comes to mind is his unabashed enthusiasm for making use of American military forces, or his disdain for nearly all international multilateral agreements.

Others might note his longstanding reputation as a hawk when it comes to so-called “rogue states” and the pursuit of nuclear weapons. Those on the leftward end of the American political spectrum might call him a “war criminal” on account of his history as a cheerleader for the 2003 US invasion of Iraq, while casual consumers of political news over the past decade or so might know him only as the bearer of what might be the most iconic, walrus-like moustache to grace the White House grounds since the time of Theodore Roosevelt (sorry, David Axelrod).

But thanks to President Donald Trump and the Bill Barr-led Department of Justice, countless Americans will now remember the 71-year-old lawyer, diplomat, and ex-Trump administration national security adviser as a best-selling author.

The fact that Bolton’s forthcoming book, The Room Where It Happened, would reveal details about Trump’s push to withhold $391 million in aid to Ukraine in order to strong-arm that country’s president into announcing a pair of sham investigations into former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter has been known since January.

Bolton was among the numerous administration witnesses from whom House Democrats had wanted to hear testimony on Trump’s Ukraine scheme, but he never showed up for his November 7 deposition and let it be known that he’d file a lawsuit if House Intelligence Committee Chair Adam Schiff tried to compel his testimony via subpoena. Bolton changed his tune two months later by offering to testify at Trump’s trial before the GOP-controlled Senate — but only if 51 senators voted to subpoena him.

And as Trump’s trial entered its second week, The New York Times reported that many of the details sought by Democrats would be available in Bolton’s forthcoming book, publication of which would come after a routine prepublication review by a career National Security Council official meant to ensure that the book did not include any classified information.

While some federal agencies — such as the FBI and CIA — require former employees to submit books and articles they author after employment for such a review, the nondisclosure agreements signed by National Security Council employees do not impose the same mandate unless a manuscript addresses intelligence matters that could touch on Sensitive Compartmentalised Information, a term used for the government’s most closely held secrets (generally sources and methods for intelligence-gathering).

According to Bolton attorney Charles Cooper, the former national security adviser, only submitted his manuscript for review “out of an abundance of caution,” and after a four-month process, the career NSC official overseeing the review — an expert who has gone through such procedures with many would-be authors — informed his client that a revised version of his manuscript had eliminated any classified passages. But rather than provide him with the customary letter attesting to his book’s suitability for publication, the Trump administration withheld the clearance letter indicating its completion and launched two subsequent rounds of review by (less qualified) political appointees, both Trump loyalists rather than career experts.

In response, Bolton and his publisher, Simon and Schuster, began moving forward with plans to release the version of the book which the career official had said contained no classified information, and in a statement released last week, Bolton signalled his intentions: “Game on”.

Trump, who has evidently never heard of the “Streisand Effect,” reacted to the news on Monday by making the nonsensical claim that any conversation he had with Bolton is per se classified. He then presumably had a hand in ordering Barr’s Justice Department to file what amounted to a 27-page advertisement in the form of a lawsuit seeking to block the book’s release based on the administration’s claim that it still “contain(s) significant amounts of classified information”.

Shortly after news of the lawsuit broke on Tuesday, The Room Where It Happened shot to the top of Amazon’s bestseller list. Yet Trump, apparently unsatisfied with his work as Bolton’s unpaid literary publicist, continued his de facto promotion of the book — while undermining the case laid out in court documents — by taking to Twitter and dismissing the book as “made up of lies and fake stories” (neither of which can properly be classified).

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