Trump threatens John Bolton with 'criminal liability' to keep him quiet

Trump threatens John Bolton with 'criminal liability' to keep him quiet

President Donald Trump on Monday claimed that any conversation between himself and former National Security Advisor John Bolton is "highly classified," threatening his far-right former top advisor with "criminal liability" if he puts out a book detailing his time working in the administration without authorization.

The remarks came during a press availability at the White House and followed news reporting that the administration is ready to file for a federal injunction against Bolton—as early as Monday afternoon—to block publication of his forthcoming book, titled "The Room Where It Happened."

Trump told reporters that he has already said to U.S. Attorney General William Barr, who was also in the meeting, that he considers "every conversation with me as president as highly classified. So if the book gets out, he's broken the law and I would think that he would have criminal problems. I hope so," Trump said.

"Maybe he's not been telling the truth," added Trump, a serial liar, of Bolton without any seeming sense of irony. "He's been known not to tell the truth—a lot."

Trump said that "a lot of people are upset" with Bolton for writing the book and referred the question to Barr.


In his remarks, Barr said that he does not believe Bolton has completed the verification process for the book and is therefore in violation of government agreement he signed when departing from his job at the White House.

"And that's criminal liability there you're talking about, by the way," Trump injected. "You're not talking like he's got to return three dollars. That's called criminal liability—that's a big thing."

While progressives have denounced Bolton for his blood-thirsty foreign policy views and hawkish invectives against a more peaceful world, curiosity about what the former diplomat might spill about what he claims to have witnessed when advising Trump remains. On Monday, ABC News' Martha Raddatz announced she had secured an interview with Bolton, calling him "the man the president doesn't want you to hear."

As for the book, many opposed to Bolton's grotesque influence on domestic policy and the world stage urged people over the weekend not buy the tell-all memoir, but to wait and see how Trump squirms when it comes out.

"There are many ways to be complicit in the Trump administration's corruption," tweeted former director of the Office of Government Ethics Walter Shaub late last week. "One way is to buy Bolton's book."

Enjoy this piece?

… then let us make a small request. AlterNet’s journalists work tirelessly to counter the traditional corporate media narrative. We’re here seven days a week, 365 days a year. And we’re proud to say that we’ve been bringing you the real, unfiltered news for 20 years—longer than any other progressive news site on the Internet.

It’s through the generosity of our supporters that we’re able to share with you all the underreported news you need to know. Independent journalism is increasingly imperiled; ads alone can’t pay our bills. AlterNet counts on readers like you to support our coverage. Did you enjoy content from David Cay Johnston, Common Dreams, Raw Story and Robert Reich? Opinion from Salon and Jim Hightower? Analysis by The Conversation? Then join the hundreds of readers who have supported AlterNet this year.

Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Help ensure AlterNet remains independent long into the future. Support progressive journalism with a one-time contribution to AlterNet, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you. Click here to donate by check.

alternet logo

Tough Times

Demand honest news. Help support AlterNet and our mission to keep you informed during this crisis.