John Bolton: Let's Just Do It And Be Legends Man
John Bolton is putting his money where his mouth is. For upwards of six months, the former national security advisor battled the White House over his upcoming tell-all book, which the Trump team insists is full of classified information. Apparently, the National Security Council is under the impression that it is Top Secret that the president is a drooling dipshit who can't read and watches 15 hours of television a day. Which ... lotsa luck, boys.
Bolton, who knows a thing or two about state secrets, insists that his account of his time as NSA is merely embarrassing, and the White House is improperly protecting the Dear Leader in an election year. So now the mustachioed warmonger is ready to FUCK IT, WE'LL DO IT LIVE and spill all the dirty, nasty details about Trump trying to extort Ukraine into investigating Joe Biden, plus the eleventy million times the president was such a goddamn idiot who was completely unfit for office. It's a bold strategy, Cotton!
The Washington Post reports that Bolton is preparing to publish "The Room Where It Happened: A White House Memoir" on June 23, with or without completion of the pre-publication review by the National Security Council. The tome runs to 592 pages, which we will never read because screw that guy, he refused to testify in the Trump impeachment hearings when it actually could have done some good for the country. And now he wants to charge people for the same information, which was apparently, according to him, unclassified all along? PFFFFFT.
Remember that time in February when Bolton told the House impeachment investigators to get bent while promising readers that, if they wanted to hear about Trump's "perfect" extortion call with Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky, "You'll love Chapter 14"? Actual quote? Yes, actual quote.
Piss off, Mustache Man.
Bolton's gambit is not without risk. If the NSC finds just one piece of classified information in the manuscript — and the Trump administration has broad discretion to retroactively classify anything it wants — he could face prosecution or be forced to disgorge his earnings on the book entirely. In 2016, Matt Bissonnette, a former Navy SEAL who wrote a bestseller about the killing of Osama bin Laden without securing clearance, was forced to give up almost $7 million from his book proceeds.
As national security law expert Brad Moss said in Lawfare about Omarosa Manigault-Newman's book, "If the individual does not follow [the classification review] process, the courts have been clear time and time again that they will side with the government if and when it ultimately takes legal action — whether civil or criminal — against the individual, no matter how flimsy the underlying classification determination may have been."
Moss and his colleague Mark S. Zaid are currently freaking out on Twitter that Bolton, who has an extremely competent lawyer in Charles Cooper, is taking such an apparently stupid risk. Zaid's firm represented Cliff Sims, a former White House aide, in a suit against the Trump campaign, which tried to block publication of his book "Team of Vipers" under a non-disclosure agreement.
Moss told Politico back in January, former government employees are legally obligated to submit to the review process, but they can sue to stop the government from dragging it out indefinitely: "There is a loophole some of us try to exploit — which is to bring an Undue Delay Claim, but that is just a mechanism to get them to finish the review." But Bolton doesn't seem to have done that, and CNN reports that he's already booking media interviews this month to gin up publicity for the book drop.
"Apparently Bolton not only wants to ensure he never gets a clearance again and likely loses all proceeds from his book, but he also wants to risk criminal prosecution," Moss tweeted.
His boss went one better, arguing that Bolton should absolutely forfeit his revenue from the book for failing to adhere to the law.
I've handled more prepublication review cases than anyone. If Govt deems even one word classified, #Bolton can be p… https://t.co/VQyZsT8Fng— Mark S. Zaid (@Mark S. Zaid)1591572029.0
But what can Zaid possibly mean by #NoSpecialTreatment? Because Bill Barr is currently unwinding cases against Trump's pals Mike Flynn and Roger Stone, while frantically maneuvering the Justice Department to engineer an October surprise to benefit Trump's re-election campaign. So presumably Bolton knows that Barr will avenge Trump and bring the DOJ down on him like a ton of bricks if Republicans are still in charge.
But with the latest CNN poll showing Biden running 14 points ahead of Trump, Bolton may anticipate that Barr will be back to ratfucking in the private sector come January. So that "special treatment" would come from a Biden-appointed attorney general, who is unlikely to seek indictments over revelations about Trump's attempt to gin up false investigations of his boss.
Will it work? Who knows! But we won't be crying any tears for John Bolton if this one comes back around to bite him in the ass, particularly since whatever damaging information that asshole is preparing to drop will have already come out by the time the Justice Department gets around to dealing with him. But it is interesting that right after Twitter starts labeling Trump's tweets as fake news, and Lisa Murkowski and Mitt Romney and the Bush family say there is no way on God's green earth they're voting for that orange-haired Mussolini wannabe, and Trump's poll numbers tank, John Bolton decides that the coast is clear now and he can safely disregard the Trump edict to sit on his book. Almost like DC has decided they can safely disregard Trump as a lame duck whose days are numbered!
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Liz Dye lives in Baltimore with her wonderful husband and a houseful of teenagers. When she isn't being mad about a thing on the internet, she's hiding in plain sight in the carpool line. She's the one wearing yoga pants glaring at her phone.