President Donald Trump said Saturday that former National Security Adviser John Bolton should face criminal charges for putting “massive amounts” of classified material in his forthcoming book after a judge refused to block the memoir’s June 23 release, according to the Washington Examiner.
“Plain and simple, John Bolton who was all washed up until I brought him back and gave him a chance, broke the law by releasing Classified Information (in massive amounts),” Trump said in a series of tweets. “He must pay a very big price for this, as others have before him.”
The calls for criminal charges echo remarks the president made to reporters at the White House on Monday before excerpts from the book, The Room Where it Happened: A White House Memoir, were published in the Wall Street Journal.
Bolton in jeopardy
“Maybe he’s not telling the truth, he’s been known not to tell the truth, a lot,” Trump said to reporters, as the New York Post noted. “Any conversation with me is classified. Then it becomes even worse if he lies about the conversation, which I understand he might have in some cases.”
“You’re not talking about like he has to return $3 he made on a book — that’s called criminal liability. That’s a big thing,” Trump added.
Attorney General William Barr also told reporters Monday that Bolton and publisher Simon & Schuster had not completed the pre-publication governmental review process required to legally publish the book, the Post added.
“It’s about very current events and current leaders and current discussions and current policy issues, many of which are inherently classified,” Barr said.
Mark Zaid, who represented the so-called Ukraine whistleblower whose accusations triggered Trump’s impeachment, agreed with Barr. “If [the government] deems even one word classified, Bolton can be prosecuted. Regardless, failure to obtain approval subjects him to civil liability,” Zaid said, the Post reported.
Judge: “Damage is done”
According to Politico, U.S. District Court Judge Royce Lamberth on Saturday denied the Justice Department’s request for an injunction to block publication, saying, “While Bolton’s unilateral conduct raises grave national security concerns, the government has not established that an injunction is an appropriate remedy. The damage is done.”
Lamberth did warn Bolton that he could face criminal charges for publishing the book, however.
“Defendant Bolton has gambled with the national security of the United States. He has exposed his country to harm and himself to civil (and potentially criminal) liability,” Lamberth wrote in his ruling.
White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany said the ruling “vindicated” Trump and the Justice Department and that Bolton “bet wrong” by releasing the book without completing the review process, according to Politico.