White House Told Bolton That Manuscript Included Top Secret Classified Information

January 29, 2020 Updated: January 29, 2020
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The White House told former national security adviser John Bolton that his manuscript included “significant amounts of classified information,” according to a Jan. 23 letter made public on Jan. 29.

Bolton has a book scheduled for a March release; parts of the book were leaked to the media, which published some of the details.

The letter was sent to Bolton’s lawyer, Charles Cooper, from Ellen Knight, the senior director for records, access, and information security management for the White House National Security Council.

“Based on our preliminary review, the manuscript appears to contain significant amounts of classified information. It also appears that some of this classified information is at the TOP SECRET level, which is defined by Executive Order 13526 as information that ‘reasonably could be expected to cause exceptionally grave harm to the national security’ of the United States if disclosed without authorization,” Knight wrote.

“Under federal law and the nondisclosure agreements your client signed as a condition for gaining access to classified information, the manuscript may not be published or otherwise disclosed without the deletion of this classified information.”

The council was still reviewing the manuscript, Knight added, adding that she would be in touch soon with additional, more detailed guidance.

“The manuscript remains under review in order for us to do our best to assist your client by identifying the classified information within the manuscript, while at the same time ensuring that publication does not harm the national security of the United States,” she wrote. “We will do our best to work with you to ensure your client’s ability to tell his story in a manner that protects U.S. national security.”

Trump speaks before he signs USMCA
President Donald Trump speaks ahead of signing the United States–Mexico–Canada Agreement, known as USMCA, during a ceremony on the South Lawn of the White House on Jan. 29, 2020. (Charlotte Cuthbertson/The Epoch Times)
Epoch Times Photo
In this image from video, the Senate chamber during the impeachment trial against President Donald Trump in the Senate at the U.S. Capitol in Washington on Jan. 28, 2020. (Senate Television via AP)

Details from Bolton’s book, “The Room Where It Happened,” leaked to media outlets this week. Bolton denied coordinating with the media while National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien said that he was “pretty confident” that the leak didn’t come from the National Security Council (NSC).

The details, which include the claim that Bolton was told by President Donald Trump that a hold on congressionally approved military aid to Ukraine was to pressure that country into investigating former Vice President Joe Biden, led to fresh calls for Bolton to be subpoenaed in the Senate impeachment trial.

“Don’t wait for the book,” House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), the lead House impeachment manager, told senators during the trial on Wednesday.

Several Republican senators have posited having the NSC release the manuscript to the Senate and have senators view the book in a secret room since the manuscript contains classified information. Another idea is having Bolton hold a press conference and say what he wants about what allegedly happened.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) called the proposal for the book to be read in the Senate’s sensitive compartmented information facility “absurd.”

“To what extent are some of our Republican colleagues going to twist themselves [into an] entire pretzel to avoid the truth?” he said at a press conference on Tuesday. “Our view is simple, we want four witnesses, four documents.”

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