DOJ opens criminal investigation into John Bolton's book

U.S. President Donald Trump left meets with South Korean President Moon Jae In in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington as national security adviser John Bolton right watches

A federal grand jury has issued criminal subpoenas to a publishing company and a literary agency in connection with the book by former Trump national security adviser John Bolton, NPR has confirmed.

The Times reported that some attorneys in the National Security Council and Justice Department were concerned that opening a criminal case would be seen as a political act.

Charles Cooper, a lawyer for Bolton, said in an email to Reuters: "We are aware of reports that grand jury subpoenas have been issued seeking information concerning the publication of Ambassador Bolton's recent book". Trump has torn into the book (and Bolton himself) ever since its publication was announced, denouncing his former official as a "sick puppy" and dismissing the "scandals" detailed in the memoir as "a compilation of lies and made-up stories, all meant to make me look bad".

But in his 10-page ruling over the summer, Judge Lamberth issued a warning to Bolton, writing that he "has gambled with the national security of the United States". Bolton also said Trump is woefully uninformed about basic matters of foreign policy and is obsessed with shaping media coverage of his presidency.

The president claimed in a June tweet that Bolton "is a lowlife who should be in jail, money seized, for disseminating, for profit, highly Classified information". Simon and Schuster declined to comment and Javelin did not immediately respond to a request for comment from ABC News.

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Bolton's attorneys wrote that the feds failed to make a good-faith effort to clear Bolton's book in a timely manner, writing in a court filing, "The facts in the public record overwhelmingly indicate that the government violated" its obligation to act in good faith "by undertaking and conducting the second, and unprecedented, further prepublication review ... for the political objective of suppressing, or at least delaying until after the 2020 election, the publication of a book that reported facts portraying President Trump in an unfavorable and embarrassing light".

An attorney disputed the conclusion that Bolton "did not fully comply" with his obligations and accused the administration of slow-walking the approval process in an attempt to prevent the release of the highly-critical book.

"In fact, the NSC has determined that information in the manuscript is classified at the Confidential, Secret, and Top Secret levels", department attorneys said in a June court filing. "Bolton was wrong", Lamberth said.

"This was Bolton's bet: If he is right and the book does not contain classified information, he keeps the upside mentioned above; but if he is wrong, he stands to lose his profits from the book deal, exposes himself to criminal liability, and imperils national security", Lamberth said at the time.

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