Federal Prosecutors Mull Whether to Charge Bolton

Plus more revelations from Bolton's upcoming book
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 18, 2020 2:10 AM CDT
Federal Prosecutors Mull Whether to Charge Bolton
In this Sept. 30, 2019, file photo, former national security adviser John Bolton gestures while speakings at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington.   (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais, File)

President Trump warned John Bolton might have a "criminal problem" on his hands were he to go ahead with releasing his White House memoir. Now, federal prosecutors are considering making good on that threat, the Los Angeles Times reports. Specifically, they're mulling whether to charge the former national security adviser with disclosing classified information, and William Barr himself is involved in the discussions. The Room Where It Happened won't be released until Tuesday, but excerpts have started emerging. And after Trump sued Tuesday to block the book's release, the Justice Department late Wednesday ramped up that legal fight by filing court documents seeking a temporary restraining order from a federal judge; it is seeking a Friday hearing on the matter. The Times notes it's not clear how much the legal fight matters at this point, given that journalists already have copies of the book and are releasing tidbits. Speaking of which:

  • Concentration camps: Bolton claims that when Chinese President Xi Jinping told Trump China was building concentration camps to be used for detaining Uighur Muslims, Trump was all for the plan, telling Xi he thought it "was exactly the right thing to do," CNN reports. (Bolton also claims Trump asked Xi to help him get re-elected; more on that here.)

  • Term limits: Bolton also claims that Xi told Trump in December that he wanted to work with him for six more years, and that Trump replied that some in the US want to do away with the presidential two-term limit for him, the Wall Street Journal reports. When Xi said the US has too many elections and that he'd prefer not to switch to dealing with another president, Trump "nodded approvingly."
  • Distraction: In November 2018, Trump released a statement defending Saudi crown prince Mohammed bin Salman regarding the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in which he made "bizarre" statements, per the Guardian, including "The world is a very dangerous place!” and “maybe he did and maybe he didn’t!" Bolton claims this was intentionally released because at the same time, daughter Ivanka Trump was in the news for allegedly using her personal email for government business. "This will divert from Ivanka,” Trump reportedly said. “If I read the statement in person, that will take over the Ivanka thing.”
  • Criticism from his inner circle: Bolton claims many of Trump's own advisers dissed him behind his back. Mike Pompeo, for example, reportedly told Bolton Trump was "so full of s---" regarding his relationship with North Korea, and that diplomatic efforts with the country had "zero probability of success." (More criticism from top advisers here.)
  • Venezuela: Trump reportedly said the country was "really part of the United States" and that invading it would be "cool."
  • Reporters jailed? Trump reportedly once asked White House counsel to call Barr and inform him of Trump's desire to have the AG "arrest the reporters, force them to serve time in jail, and then demand they disclose their sources."
  • Bolton interview: On ABC News Wednesday, Bolton said he believes Russian President Vladimir Putin thinks he can play Trump "like a fiddle" and that Putin "sees that ... he's not faced with a serious adversary" in Trump.
  • Russia sanctions: In the book, Bolton says Trump publicly praised sanctions on Russia but privately grumbled about them, CNN reports. The president reportedly thought the US was being too tough on Putin, and Bolton says this was just one example of Trump's "difficulty in separating personal from official relations."
  • Pushback from Trump's people: On Fox News Wednesday, Rudy Giuliani slammed Bolton during his time in the administration: "The ridiculous statements that he sometimes made that we all kept our mouths shut about, and his desire for war, which is kind of sick."
  • Pompeo and China: As the Trump-Xi headlines were making waves, Pompeo was in Hawaii meeting with a top Chinese official. Per the AP, they were discussing "a wide range of contentious issues that have sent relations between the two countries plummeting."
(More revelations from Bolton's book here.)

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