(Sept. 23) The Trump administration again looks terrible and former national security adviser John Bolton looks significantly better after the delivery of a remarkably informative letter from the senior official who reviewed Bolton’s recent book.

On behalf of Ellen Knight, the former senior director for records access and information security management at the National Security Council, attorney Kenneth Wainstein sent the 18-page letter to lawyers for Bolton and for the Justice Department, which has threatened Bolton with criminal prosecution for allegedly publishing classified information.

The letter makes clear Knight’s contention that no classified information remained in Bolton’s book, The Room Where It Happened. Its unambiguous subtext is that President Trump’s team again politicized and abused freedom of speech guarantees and national security in a naked bid to avoid embarrassment to the president.

In a passage that has received far less attention, Knight refutes the widespread public impression that Bolton’s greed for profits led him to withhold important information from the Ukraine-related impeachment investigation and the trial of Trump. Instead, Bolton repeatedly tried to get permission to release the information but was denied.

Already, too few people have credited Bolton for essentially begging the Senate to subpoena him so he could testify under oath without risking legal repercussions. Knight’s letter shows that Bolton also tried other means to provide the desired information for the public good.

“On one occasion when [Bolton’s lawyer] requested that Ms. Knight’s staff prioritize the Ukraine chapter in the manuscript for prepublication review to make it publicly available during the impeachment trial, the then-Deputy Legal Advisor [Michael] Ellis instructed her to temporarily withhold any response,” the letter stated.

In other words, Bolton was not trying to withhold the information for purposes of book profiteering but because he did not yet have notice that it was unclassified….

[The full column is here.]



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