Saturday, February 22, 2020


Every news story about the vetting process for John Bolton's book implies that the vetting is being done by career professionals according to long-established standards. I don't believe it. I believe the career pros may be trying to uphold standards -- but is it even possible that they're not feeling intimidated? Is it conceivable that this president will allow them to exercise independent judgment, even if they conclude that the book is publishable before November?
President Trump has directly weighed in on the White House review of a forthcoming book by his former national security adviser, telling his staff that he views John Bolton as “a traitor,” that everything he uttered to the departed aide about national security is classified and that he will seek to block the book’s publication, according to two people familiar with the conversations.

The president’s private arguments stand in contrast to the point-by-point process used to classify and protect sensitive secrets and appears to differ from the White House’s public posture toward Bolton’s much-anticipated memoir. The National Security Council warned Bolton last month that his draft “appears to contain significant amounts of classified information,” some of it top secret, but pledged to help him revise the manuscript and “move forward as expeditiously as possible.”

“We will do our best to work with you to ensure your client’s ability to tell his story in a manner that protects U.S. national security,” Ellen Knight, senior director of the council’s records office, wrote in a Jan. 23 letter to Bolton’s attorney.

But the president has insisted to aides that Bolton’s account of his work in Trump’s White House, “The Room Where It Happened,” should not see the light of day before the November election....

Trump told national television anchors on Feb. 4 during an off-the-record lunch that material in the book was “highly classified,” according to notes from one participant in the luncheon. He then called him a “traitor.”

“We’re going to try and block the publication of the book,” Trump said, according to the notes. “After I leave office, he can do this. But not in the White House.”
If Trump wins again, that book will never see the light of day, and neither will this one:
Marie Yovanovitch, who was ousted from her post as U.S. ambassador to Ukraine after a smear campaign by Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani, has signed a book deal, it was announced Friday.

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt said it had acquired a memoir by Yovanovich....

The book ... is scheduled to be published in the spring of 2021....
If they want the book out, Bolton and his publisher, Simon & Schuster, might have to consider publishing without clearance. It's risky, though. When this has been done in the past, the government responded by seizing the profits and threatening criminal prosecution.
A former Navy SEAL wrote a 2012 book about his role in the raid that killed Osama bin Laden, triggering a Justice Department criminal investigation into allegations he published classified details of his work and training as a special operator.

In a 2016 settlement, Matt Bissonnette, who wrote “No Easy Day” under the pen name Mark Owen, agreed to turn over to the government all the profits and future royalties stemming from his book — which amounted to at least $6.6 million at the time. As part of the deal, Bissonnette acknowledged he failed to get his manuscript properly cleared by the Pentagon. In exchange, the Justice Department agreed to dismiss any other claims and drop any plans to prosecute him for the release of classified information.
I'm guessing Bolton doesn't need the money, though he wouldn't want to give it up. I'm also guessing that the Trumpers would be more than happy to take his money and prosecute him, while Trump would made Twitter threats (at least) against Simon & Schuster's parent company, ViacomCBS.

If the prospect of Trump going after Bolton this way has you rooting for injuries, imagine how this would go in the case of Yovanovitch, who has less money and fewer powerful friends, and a smaller and thus more vulnerable publisher.

So if you ever want to read either of these books, work hard to elect Sanders/Bloomberg/Biden/Warren, because it won't be possible otherwise.

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