Ex-NSC official alleges ‘unprecedented’ intervention by White House aides in Bolton book review

A former National Security Council (NSC) official says the White House intervened in “unprecedented” fashion in the prepublication review process of former national security adviser John BoltonJohn BoltonJudge appears skeptical of Bolton’s defense of publishing book without White House approval Maximum pressure is keeping US troops in Iraq and Syria Woodward book trails Bolton, Mary Trump in first-week sales MORE’s book in an effort to deem information classified and prevent the memoir’s publication. 

Kenneth Wainstein, a lawyer for Ellen Knight, a career federal employee and a former NSC senior director who led the prepublication review of Bolton’s book, filed a letter in federal court on Wednesday detailing Knight’s concerns with the actions of White House officials in the review of Bolton’s memoir, “The Room Where it Happened,” earlier this year. He writes that she harbors concerns about the potential politicization of the prepublication review process.  

Wainstein conveys Knight’s view that NSC lawyers played “an outsize role in the review process” after she informed them of her receipt of Bolton’s manuscript.

For instance, NSC officials oversaw and dictated the timing of correspondence between Knight and Chuck Cooper, Bolton’s attorney, according to the letter. It says that, at one point, Michael Ellis, then the NSC deputy legal adviser, instructed Knight to “temporarily withhold any response” to Bolton’s attorney when he asked that a section of the book on Ukraine be prioritized so that it could become public during President TrumpDonald John TrumpBiden says voters should choose who nominates Supreme Court justice Trump, Biden will not shake hands at first debate due to COVID-19 Pelosi: Trump Supreme Court pick ‘threatens’ Affordable Care Act MORE’s impeachment trial.

“These interactions with NSC Legal in the course of a prepublication review were unprecedented in her experience. She had never previously been asked to take the above described measures, and she has never heard that predecessors in her position ever received such instructions in the course of their prepublication reviews,” Wainstein writes. 

The letter, which stretches 18 pages, describes the prepublication review process that took place when Bolton’s more than 500-page manuscript was submitted to the NSC for review at the end of December. 

It says that Knight and her staff worked closely with Bolton, who served as Trump’s third national security adviser, to revise his manuscript and eventually determined that the book did not contain classified information in April.

But, according to Knight’s account, political appointees at NSC intervened, delaying the issuance of a clearance letter to Bolton and ultimately challenging her assessment of the book’s contents. Ellis had conducted his own review of the book, which Knight learned of in the weeks after she informed NSC lawyers that her review was completed. Knight says Ellis undertook a “flawed approach” because he conflated a classification review with a prepublication review.

The letter also claims that White House attorneys sought to persuade Knight to sign a declaration in the administration’s eventual lawsuit against Bolton about her role in the review process that contended

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L.A. County restrictions on indoor shopping centers are unjust, mall lawsuit alleges

The operator of a sports apparel store in Del Amo Fashion Center in Torrance has filed a lawsuit against Los Angeles County in an effort to ease countywide restrictions on operating businesses in indoor malls during the COVID-19 pandemic.



a store inside of a building: The Pro Image Sports store in Del Amo Fashion Center in Torrance sells sports apparel. (Daisy Rivas / Pro Image Sports)


© (Daisy Rivas / Pro Image Sports)
The Pro Image Sports store in Del Amo Fashion Center in Torrance sells sports apparel. (Daisy Rivas / Pro Image Sports)

Also objecting to the limits is the largest owner of indoor malls in the county, Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield, which called the county’s restrictions that are now stricter than state guidelines an “undue hardship” on the company and its store tenants.

In a proposed class-action lawsuit filed last week in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, the owner of Rivas Sports Inc. said it was unfair for the county to shutter “nonessential” businesses like hers that have their front doors inside of an enclosed mall.

Stores in shopping centers that have their own doors to the outside can still operate under safety guidelines issued by the county in May as pandemic-related restrictions on businesses were eased. Interior mall stores were allowed to operate at 50% occupancy until they were closed by the state in July as infections surged.

Gov. Gavin Newsom on Aug. 28 unveiled a plan that allowed Los Angeles County to reopen stores and malls at 25% capacity, but county officials opted to keep most stores inside malls closed. Hair and nail salons can reopen countywide with limited service.

Rivas Sports owner Daisy Rivas said she is willing to follow the state rules, which would mean allowing only eight customers at a time inside her Pro Image Sports shop at Del Amo Fashion Center.

“We have operated safely and followed the government guidelines to the letter of the law, and we are prepared to be fully compliant” with Newsom’s guidance, Rivas said. “Yet without a single word of explanation by the county, they continue to shut us down. We and many other small businesses need our stores open in order to survive.”

The lawsuit was filed by Rivas on behalf of other retailers together with the owner and manager of Del Amo Fashion Center, an affiliate of Simon Property Group. Indianapolis-based Simon is one of the largest mall operators in the country.



A handful of people shop at the Del Amo Fashion Center in Torrance on Thursday, Mar. 12, 2020, after officials had cautioned the public to keep a safe distance from other people to avoid infections of COVID-19. (Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)


© (Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)
A handful of people shop at the Del Amo Fashion Center in Torrance on Thursday, Mar. 12, 2020, after officials had cautioned the public to keep a safe distance from other people to avoid infections of COVID-19. (Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)

“This blatantly unconstitutional act prevents interior mall stores from operating, crushing their businesses, denying their employees of their livelihoods, and laying waste to their businesses,” the plaintiffs said in their complaint filed with the court.

The county’s public information office said it would not comment on pending litigation, but released this statement:

“From the onset of the pandemic, Los Angeles County has been intensely committed to protecting

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Former kitchen worker at Poole’s Diner alleges sexual assault at the restaurant in 2017

A former kitchen employee at award-winning chef Ashley Christensen’s Poole’s Diner alleges she was sexually assaulted three times in seven months while working at the restaurant.

Kaylin Fulp, who granted The News & Observer permission to publish her name, started working at Poole’s Diner in 2017 when she was 19 years old. She spoke Sunday at a meeting held by the Raleigh chapter of the North Carolina Safety Alliance, a group that shares stories from victims of sexual assault and harassment.

“I was sexually assaulted three times within my seven months of employment at Poole’s Diner,” Fulp said at Sunday’s meeting, according to videos of the meeting live-streamed on the group’s Instagram page.

Fulp attended a year of culinary school, but dropped out due to finances, she said during Sunday’s meeting. In Poole’s she hoped the acclaimed kitchen would be a replacement for a classical training.

At that time, Christensen had won the James Beard award for Best Chef: Southeast in 2014. More recently, she won the 2019 James Beard for Outstanding Chef in the country. In 2017, she was also Eater’s Chef of the Year and the News & Observer’s co-Tar Heel of the Year, shared with chef Vivian Howard.

While sharing her story Sunday, Fulp said she had been proud to be hired at Poole’s, calling it Raleigh’s pedestal, and said that it felt great to be picked from among other applicants at the James Beard-winning restaurant. She said that she worked hard to prove herself in the kitchen.

Sexual assault, bullying allegations

In that kitchen, she alleges she experienced three instances of sexual assault by two different employees, as well as bullying and verbal abuse. She said that she took the allegations to the restaurant’s human resources department.

“I tried to do the right thing, I tried to go through HR,” Fulp said Sunday. “When they found out I told on their buddy, (other kitchen employees) bullied me out of my job.”

Fulp referred to the kitchen as a “boys club” and said she left the job despite not wanting to.

On Tuesday, Christensen and Kait Goalen, her wife and AC Restaurants executive director, posted an open letter on the company’s website responding to the allegations. That letter acknowledges complaints in 2017, but said that details shared by Fulp on Sunday were new information to them.

“We respect and appreciate Kaylin so much for what she did when she came forward, and how she helped us and our company grow to be better,” Christensen and Goalen said in the letter. “We are devastated that it came at such great personal cost to her — it shouldn’t have had to. The trauma she experienced while working at Poole’s is not her fault. We are deeply regretful that we failed Kaylin during her employment with our company. We are so sorry.”

Christensen and Goalen declined an interview request, but did submit an additional emailed statement. In that statement, Christensen said Poole’s was unaware of a sexual assault complaint.

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