US National Security Advisor John Bolton meets with journalists during a visit to London, August 12, 2019.
Peter Nicholls | Reuters
The U.S. Department of Justice on Wednesday dropped a lawsuit seeking to confiscate profits from a bestselling book by John Bolton about his tenure as national security advisor to former President Donald Trump, a court record shows.
At the same time, the Justice Department announced to Bolton that it is closing an investigation into whether he may have committed a crime that may have disclosed classified information in the book “The Room Where it Happened,” according to a statement from Bolton’s office.
This book, published by Simon & Schuster last year, sharply criticized Trump.
“These measures are a complete justification for Ambassador Bolton and a rejection of former President Trump’s attempt on the pretext of protecting classified information, suppressing publication of the book first and, when it failed in court, punishing the ambassador,” said Bolton’s office.
“Trump openly admitted his desire to block publication of the book before the 2020 elections for political reasons,” the statement said.
For example, he said, ‘We’re going to try to block the publication of the book. After I leave office, he can do that. But not in the White House.’ “
The statement also noted that in the case, Royce Lamberth, before the Justice Department agreed to dismiss the lawsuit, the judge had allowed Bolton’s attorney to seek evidence that “alleged President Trump or senior officials of the White House acted basing “could maliciously by deliberately delaying the review before publication and trying to inappropriately influence classification decisions” about the book.
A Justice Department spokeswoman and a Trump spokeswoman did not immediately respond to CNBC’s request for comment.
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The Justice Department sued Bolton in 2020, claiming that he failed to comply with the requirement to obtain written permission prior to the publication of his book to ensure that it did not reveal any classified information.
The department failed to convince a judge to prevent the book from being published, but continued to try to make a profit on the lawsuit filed in the U.S. District Court in Washington, DC
In his statement on Wednesday, Bolton’s office included a letter from attorneys for Ellen Knight, a former National Security Council officer who checked the manuscript of the book for classified information.
The letter describes how Trump’s White House tried to prevent the book from being published, even after the manuscript was revised and contained no classified information.
Bolton’s attorney Charles Cooper said in a statement: “We are delighted that the Justice Department has unreservedly dismissed its civil suit against Ambassador Bolton and suspended the grand jury.”
“We argued from the start that none of the measures were justified because they were only initiated because of President Trump’s politically motivated order to prevent the ambassador’s book from being published before the 2020 elections,” said Cooper.
“By ending this process without penalizing Ambassador Bolton in any way or limiting his revenue from the book, the Justice Department has tacitly recognized that President Trump and his White House officials acted illegally.”