KEY POINTS

  • The Department of Justice opened a criminal inquiry into whether John Bolton mishandled classified intelligence in publishing his memoir
  • They allege he needed to wait for a government review to be completed, but Bolton says the Trump administration was delaying the process to protect the president's image
  • Trump has accused Bolton of lying and tweeted on multiple occasions that Bolton should be in jail

The Department of Justice opened a criminal investigation into John Bolton following the publication of the former national security adviser's book critical of President Trump.

The investigation was initiated to determine whether Bolton mishandled classified information for his book, “The Room Where It Happened," which was published in June.

Justice mounted an unsuccessful effort to block publication, and the New York Times reported Monday the investigation was opened shortly thereafter.

Judge Royce C. Lamberth declined to block publication a week before the release since the book already had been distributed to retailers and advance copies sent to the media. Lamberth noted, however, if Bolton went ahead with publication, he would open himself to “civil [and potentially criminal] liability.” He said Bolton had "gambled with the national security of the United States.”

The Justice Department charged in June that Bolton needed to wait for the federal government to complete a review before the book could be published. Bolton said the Trump administration was intentionally delaying the publication of his book to protect the president’s image, and attorney Charles J. Cooper told the Times his client took “issue with the court’s preliminary conclusion ... that Ambassador Bolton did not comply fully with his contractual prepublication obligation to the government.”

The New York Times reported the investigation has requested access to all communications between Bolton and the book’s publisher, Simon & Schuster.

Bolton's memoir sold 780,000 copies in the first week. The book verified parts of the Trump impeachment accusations and said the events in Ukraine were indicative of a broader willingness to allow foreign entities to interfere domestically to curry favor. Bolton also alleged Trump requested Chinese assistance with his 2020 reelection bid. 

Trump has said multiple times he wants Bolton jailed, tweeting he is “incompetent,” “wacko,” and a “lowlife” who “broke the law” and “should be in jail.”