White House tells Bolton book has secret material, can't be published
It says 'top secret' material in former adviser's manuscript could cause 'exceptionally grave harm' to US
WASHINGTON: The White House has informed former national security adviser John Bolton that his book manuscript appeared to contain "significant amounts of classified information" and could not be published in its current form.
The letter from the White House National Security Council to Mr Bolton's attorney, Mr Charles Cooper, and seen by Reuters, said the manuscript contained some material that was considered "top secret" that could reasonably be expected to cause "exceptionally grave harm" to US national security if disclosed without authorisation.
"Under federal law and the nondisclosure agreements your client signed as a condition for gaining access to classified information, the manuscript may not be published or otherwise disclosed without the deletion of this classified information," the letter said.
The letter, which was sent via e-mail to Mr Cooper, was dated Jan 23.
The manuscript has upended the impeachment trial against Republican President Donald Trump, for whom Mr Bolton worked.
The New York Times reported on Sunday that Mr Trump told Mr Bolton in August he wanted to continue to freeze US$391 million (S$533 million) in security aid to Ukraine until officials there helped with investigations into Democrats, including former Vice President Joe Biden, a Democratic presidential candidate, and his son Hunter.
That revelation has bolstered Democrats' push to call Mr Bolton as a witness in the impeachment trial, in which Mr Trump is accused of abusing his power over his dealings with Ukraine and of obstructing Congress.
The letter, signed by Ms Ellen Knight, the senior director for records, access and information security management, said Mr Bolton's manuscript was still being studied.
"The manuscript remains under review in order for us to do our best to assist your client by identifying the classified information within the manuscript," it said.
"We will do our best to work with you to ensure your client's ability to tell his story in a manner that protects US national security."
Mr Trump lashed out at Mr Bolton on Twitter, saying his former aide was coming out with potentially damaging allegations in an upcoming "nasty & untrue book" because he was fired from his White House position.
Mr Trump also called on Republicans to reject a push for witnesses when the issue comes up for a vote on Friday and blasted Mr Bolton, whom he fired in September.
"Frankly, if I listened to him, we would be in World War Six by now," Mr Trump said. "(He) goes out and IMMEDIATELY writes a nasty & untrue book. All Classified National Security. Who would do this?" - 'Don't wait for the book'.
Republicans who control the Senate said there was a chance the trial could end on Friday with Mr Trump's acquittal, leaving him in office and rendering moot the articles of impeachment Democrats approved in the House of Representatives in December.
An acquittal would allow the Republican president to claim vindication and put the threat to his presidency behind him just as Americans begin focusing on the Democratic race to choose his challenger in the Nov 3 election.
Iowa holds the first election contest of the year on Monday. - REUTERS