There has been much talk in the media about former National Security Adviser John Bolton’s new tell-all and how it supposedly contains allegations of improprieties by President Donald Trump involving Ukraine — information that appears to have been leaked to the media by somebody, given that the book hasn’t been released to the public yet.
Bolton and his attorneys have denied responsibility for the leak and implied that the leak originated with the National Security Council (NSC), which was tasked with reviewing Bolton’s book to remove classified information ahead of publication. But NSC head Robert O’Brien, who replaced Bolton as National Security adviser, said on Sunday that he was “very confident” the leaked portions of Bolton’s manuscript did not originate with the NSC, the Washington Examiner reported.
Bolton’s attorneys deny leak
The apparent leaks of portions of Bolton’s books resulted in a number of stories published in The New York Times, and echoed by others, that fueled the demand from Democrats for Bolton to testify in the Senate impeachment trial.
Bolton’s team has tried to blame the NSC for the leaks. “It is clear, regrettably, from The New York Times article published today that the prepublication review process has been corrupted and that information has been disclosed by persons other than those properly involved in reviewing the manuscript,” Bolton’s attorney Charles Cooper said in a statement last week.
But O’Brien just made it clear during an appearance Sunday morning on CBS’ Face the Nation with host Margaret Brennan that, as far as he was aware, the NSC had nothing to do with the leaks of portions of Bolton’s manuscript.
O’Brien “very confident” NSC didn’t leak
Following some initial discussion of the NSC review process and whether the White House intended to fight Bolton over the release of the book, Brennan asked, “Did anyone on the NSC leak it?”
O’Brien said, “No” and, when pressed by Brennan, replied, “I said this before on the record. I’m very confident that that — that the leaks of that book did not come from the NSC.”
Brennan pressed O’Brien on some of the specifics included in the allegations attributed to Bolton’s book, but O’Brien declined to dwell on the matter and simply reiterated that President Donald Trump — as well as Attorney General Bill Barr and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo — have denied and disputed the claims purported to have been made by Bolton in the media reports.
However, he added, “It’s always disappointing when someone who has access to the most confidential, close information, close relationship with the president, decides to leave the White House and do a tell-all book.”
So who did it?
Though it remains unclear who, exactly, leaked portions of Bolton’s manuscript to the media, somebody must have done so.
But now both Bolton and his attorneys and the head of the NSC have gone on record and denied being responsible for the leaks.
Unless one side or the other is lying — which can’t be entirely ruled out — the only plausible explanation left is that rogue members of the NSC, intent on harming President Trump from within the administration, surreptitiously leaked portions of the book to the media and covered their tracks well enough for the time being.