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