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White House balks, again, at Bolton plan to publish memoir

FILE - In this Feb. 19, 2020, file photo, former national security adviser John Bolton takes part in a discussion on global leadership at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tenn. An attorney for Bolton said Wednesday, June 10, that President Donald Trump is trying to put on ice publication of the former top administration officials forthcoming memoir after White House lawyers again this week raised concerns that the book contains classified material that presents a national security threat. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey, File)
FILE - In this Feb. 19, 2020, file photo, former national security adviser John Bolton takes part in a discussion on global leadership at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tenn. An attorney for Bolton said Wednesday, June 10, that President Donald Trump is trying to put on ice publication of the former top administration officials forthcoming memoir after White House lawyers again this week raised concerns that the book contains classified material that presents a national security threat. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey, File) (Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

WASHINGTON – The White House has told former national security adviser John Bolton that the manuscript of his forthcoming memoir still contains classified material and could present a national security threat. But Bolton’s lawyer said Wednesday that publication will go ahead as planned on June 23 and he accused the White House of unfairly trying to keep it on ice.

John Eisenberg, a deputy White House counsel, wrote Bolton attorney Charles Cooper this week raising concerns that the manuscript for “The Room Where It Happened” still “contains classified information.”

“As we advised your client when he signed the nondisclosure agreements, and as he should be well as aware as Assistant to the President for the National Security Affairs in this administration, the unauthorized disclosure of classified information could be exploited by a foreign power, thereby causing significant harm to the national security of the United States,” Eisenberg wrote in a letter obtained by The Associated Press.

Eisenberg added that Bolton would be provided with necessary redactions from the White House no later than June 19.

Cooper, writing in The Wall Street Journal, said White House lawyers have slow-walked the process because “President Trump simply doesn’t want John Bolton to publish his book.”

“This is a transparent attempt to use national security as a pretext to censor Mr. Bolton, in violation of his constitutional right to speak on matters of the utmost public import,” Cooper wrote. “This attempt will not succeed, and Mr. Bolton’s book will be published June 23.”

Leaked passages from the manuscript roiled Washington in the midst of Trump’s impeachment trial. Included was the revelation that Bolton said Trump told him he was conditioning the release of military aid to Ukraine on whether Ukraine's government would help investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter. The younger Biden was paid by a gas company in Ukraine to serve as a board member.

Bolton initially submitted the transcript as required to Ellen Knight, the National Security Council’s senior director for prepublication review of materials written by NSC personnel, on Dec. 30, according to Cooper.

“What followed was perhaps the most extensive and intensive prepublication review in NSC history,” Cooper wrote. “Mr. Bolton and Ms. Knight spent almost four months going through the nearly 500-page manuscript four times, often line by line.”

Cooper said that at the end of the ordeal, Knight told Bolton on April 27 “that’s the last edit I really have to provide for you.”

“Yet when Mr. Bolton asked when he would receive the letter confirming the book was cleared, Ms. Knight cryptically replied that her ‘interaction’ with unnamed others in the White House about the book had ‘been very delicate’ and that there were ‘some internal process considerations to work through,’’’ Cooper wrote.

Then Bolton received the letter on Monday that White House concerns about classified material in the book remain.

The White House declined comment Wednesday.