Former staffer: White House politicized Bolton book review

WASHINGTON — Trump administration officials repeatedly exerted political pressure in an unsuccessful effort to block the release of former national security adviser John Bolton’s tell-all book, a career government records professional said in a court filing Wednesday.

After Bolton submitted his book for prepublication review last last year, it was Ellen Knight’s job at the White House to make sure it did not contain classified information that could possibly threaten U.S. national security.

For the first time, Knight recounted the monthslong prepublication review process that she says was replete with delay tactics, legal maneuverings and a shadow review by a political appointee who had no experience in that area. She contends the actions were aimed at discrediting her work and blocking the publication of Bolton’s book, “The Room Where It Happened.”

Bolton’s book, offering a behind-the-scenes account of Trump’s interactions with foreign leaders, went on sale earlier this year. The Trump administration maintains that it contains classified information, and the Justice Department has launched a criminal investigation into its release.

Earlier, the Justice Department sued unsuccessfully to block the release of the book. A federal judge rejected the suit, partly because hundreds of thousands of copies had already been distributed. But the judge expressed concern that Bolton published the book before receiving a formal clearance letter, which Knight said was blocked by the White House.

Knight asked her attorney, Ken Wainstein, to write a letter for the court to give her first-hand account of the controversial review.

“As a career professional in the field of classified information management, Ms. Knight is very concerned about the politicization — or even the perceived politicization — of the prepublication review process,” Wainstein wrote.

If authors lose confidence in the process, they might try to publish without submitting manuscripts for review, which “could result in unchecked disclosures of sensitive information and the potential for serious damage to our national security,” he wrote.

Justice Department spokesperson Kerri Kupec said Knight’s court filing confirms that Bolton did not receive the required written, prepublication approval before publishing.

“Mr. Bolton chose to publish a manuscript that four senior national security officials have stated, under penalty of perjury, contains classified information,” she said in a statement.

Knight was detailed from the National Archives and Records Administration to the National Security Council from August 2018 to August 2020. During that time, she and her staff handled more than 135 prepublication review requests, perusing more than 10,000 pages of manuscripts.

Knight and her colleague spent hundreds of hours over four months reviewing and researching information found in Bolton’s more than 500-page manuscript. Knight met with Bolton for a total of 14 hours and spoke on the phone with him 10 times, including two calls that lasted several hours, the filing said.

After completing her review in late April, she gave the manuscript to her superior, who confirmed that all sensitive or classified information she had determined was in the original manuscript had been removed.

Knight said that when she advised NSC

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Ex-White House Staffer Says Trump Has ‘Disregard for Human Life’ and She’s Voting for Biden

President Donald Trump speaks to reporters at the White House during a coronavirus task force briefing on April 23.

A former White House staffer this week slammed the Trump administration’s novel coronavirus response as a “failure” and said she would be voting for Joe Biden — arguing President Donald Trump has displayed a “flat out disregard for human life.”

In response, the White House dismissed Olivia Troye as “disgruntled” and her assessment as “baseless.”

Troye — who worked as an aide for Vice President Mike Pence and who was on the coronavirus task force — spoke to The Washington Post in an article published Thursday.

Her striking comments come as nearly 200,000 people have died in the U.S. from the respiratory illness. At least 6.6 million Americans have contracted the virus so far, according to a New York Times tracker.

Troye worked for the Trump administration for the last two years and left in August. She told the Post that the president’s “main concern was the economy and his reelection.”

She said his response has cost lives.

“The president’s rhetoric and his own attacks against people in his administration trying to do the work, as well as the promulgation of false narratives and incorrect information of the virus have made this ongoing response a failure,” she told the paper.

The White House quickly responded with pre-written statements about Troye’s time working for the administration.

White House spokesman Judd Deere said Troye was a “disgruntled former detailee” and “her assertions have no basis in reality and are flat out inaccurate.”

Troye, 43, told a different story to the Post, saying she helped organize “every single meeting” that the coronavirus task force had, helped advise Vice President Pence, 61, on the coronavirus throughout the pandemic and had gone so far as to help his senior aides write a mid-June editorial in the Wall Street Journal that defended the administration’s response to the virus.

“It was ludicrous,” she said of the op-ed, which hailed the Trump administration’s pandemic response as a success.

Troye described herself to the Post as a “lifelong Republican,” though she said she did not vote for Trump in 2016.

She is not Trump’s only coronavirus critic: The president’s handling of the pandemic has been scrutinized going back to the spring, including for problems with testing and for sending conflicting messages about the importance of wearing masks and practicing social distancing.

In the summer, he infamously mused aloud if injecting disinfectant could be a successful treatment.

Audio released by journalist Bob Woodward shows Trump , 74, admitting that he knowingly downplayed the virus’ true threat — which he publicly said was similar to the flu — because he wanted to avoid “panic.”

The president has also contradicted his own health experts on a number of matters, such as the timeline of a coronavirus vaccine.

RELATED: CDC Director Says to Wear Masks as COVID-19 Vaccine Won’t Be Ready Until 2021, Clashing with Trump

Vice President Mike Pence (left) and

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Trump confirms another White House staffer tested positive for COVID-19

President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump says he doesn’t think he could’ve done more to stop virus spread Conservative activist Lauren Witzke wins GOP Senate primary in Delaware Trump defends claim coronavirus will disappear, citing ‘herd mentality’ MORE on Wednesday confirmed that a White House staffer tested positive for COVID-19 in the last 24 hours but said he did not have contact with the individual.

The positive test came after the White House hosted hundreds of people on the South Lawn on Tuesday for the signing of peace accords to mark the normalization of relations between Israel and two Arab countries. Trump offered few details on the latest positive case at the White House.

“Last night I heard about it for the first time, and it’s a small number of cases,” Trump told reporters at a news conference, appearing unfamiliar with the specifics.

He turned to press secretary Kayleigh McEnany, who earlier in the day told reporters she would not discuss any potential positive tests within the building. She confirmed at the evening briefing that one unidentified person tested positive but that “it did not affect the event and press was not around the individual.”

“And it’s not anybody that was near me,” Trump added.

The White House has not publicized each individual case of COVID-19 among staff, though some cases have been confirmed after they were reported in the press. National security adviser Robert O’BrienRobert O’BrienDHS asks Schiff to reconsider expanded probe after whistleblower complaint, declines additional interview requests Trump officials defend president’s coronavirus response amid Woodward revelations Pence denies Trump’s downplaying hampered COVID-19 response MORE has already had COVID-19. So has a White House valet who serves the president. Katie Miller, the vice president’s communications director and the wife of Trump senior adviser Stephen MillerStephen MillerBiden pick creates furor, underscoring bitterness over Obama immigration policy Ambassador to France says Trump never disparaged war dead White House officials voted by show of hands on 2018 family separations: report MORE, also has had COVID-19. 

The latest positive test follows weeks of the White House shirking guidelines from its own public health officials on preventing transmission of COVID-19.

Officials have eschewed wearing masks, and the president has held large events outdoors for weeks, dating back to last month’s Republican National Convention, where hundreds of people were packed closely together during his speech to accept the nomination.

The president held a packed campaign rally on Sunday that was indoors and in violation of a Nevada ordinance capping events at 50 people. Gov. Steve SisolakSteve SisolakTrump says he’s not worried about contracting coronavirus at rallies At indoor rally, Pence says election runs through Wisconsin Fox anchor presses Trump aide on indoor rally: ‘This goes against the president’s own administration guidelines’ MORE (D) blasted Trump’s actions as “shameful, dangerous and irresponsible.”

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Former White House Staffer Zach Fuentes’ Denial Trump Called Fallen Troops ‘Losers’ Earns President’s Praise

President Donald Trump considers himself at the forefront of respect for service members and expressed gratitude to former White House Deputy Chief of Staff Zach Fuentes for denying a report that the president called fallen military members “losers.”



Donald Trump wearing a suit and tie: President Donald Trump delivers remarks during a news conference at the North Portico at the White House on Monday in Washington, D.C. During the briefing, Trump thanked former White House deputy chief of staff Zach Fuentes for denying a story published in The Atlantic that said Trump called fallen service members "losers."


© Tasos Katopodis/Getty
President Donald Trump delivers remarks during a news conference at the North Portico at the White House on Monday in Washington, D.C. During the briefing, Trump thanked former White House deputy chief of staff Zach Fuentes for denying a story published in The Atlantic that said Trump called fallen service members “losers.”

Fuentes’ denial countered a story published in The Atlantic that Trump canceled a 2018 visit to Aisne-Marne American Cemetery in France because he didn’t consider honoring fallen war veterans as important. After having thanked Fuentes on Twitter, Trump told reporters during Monday’s briefing that he was “very happy” that the former White House staffer said the story wasn’t true.

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“Who would say a thing like that? Only an animal would say a thing like that,” Trump said. “There’s nobody that has more respect for not only our military but people who gave our lives in the military.”

Fuentes, who worked for former White House Chief of Staff John Kelly, told Breitbart on Monday that he didn’t hear Trump say the cemetery, which is dedicated to Americans killed during World War I, was “filled with losers.” Declaring himself to be on the record, Fuentes told Breitbart he wasn’t one of the people who spoke to The Atlantic for the story and said Kelly wouldn’t have tolerated the comment.

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“Honestly, do you think General Kelly would have stood by and let ANYONE call fallen Marines losers?” Fuentes said.

This is a developing story and will be updated as more information becomes available.

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