Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, and U.S. National security adviser John Bolton during their meeting in the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, Tuesday, Oct. 23, 2018. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)
There’s always more to the story. That’s especially true in politics.
Some days ago, when John Bolton’s book originally leaked in the form of anonymous descriptions of a “bombshell” excerpt, Bolton’s camp immediately denied being the source.
NEW: Statement from Ambassador John Bolton, Simon and Schuster and Javelin Literary: pic.twitter.com/WpYV44bEWQ
— Jonathan Swan (@jonathanvswan) January 27, 2020
They went so far as to try to blame the White House, which makes no sense on its face. Why would the White House want to leak something to damage itself? The other proposed explanation is that some anti-Trump figure at the NSC, who were counducting the security review of Bolton’s book, leaked it.
For a while, that seemed like the most likely possibility. But now new revelations are starting to paint a different picture.
Start with this false charge from Jake Tapper, because it plays into how this is being spun.
The White House has issued a formal threat to former national security adviser John Bolton to keep him from publishing his book, "The Room Where It Happened: A White House Memoir," sources familiar with the matter tell CNN.
— Jake Tapper (@jaketapper) January 29, 2020
That’s actually a lie. There is no “formal threat” in the letter. It’s cordial, notifies Bolton (via his attorney) of classified information being present, and vows to help work through the issues. Further, the letter was sent to Bolton before the description of the excerpt from his book leaked, so it was not a political response to the leak itself as Tapper is trying to insinuate.
Here’s the letter in question and take notice of the date.
— John Roberts (@johnrobertsFox) January 29, 2020
With that out there, let’s go over the timeline in question.
The NSC sends Bolton a notification that he can not publish his book as planned because it contains significant amounts of classified information. This is obviously true, as much of what went on in Bolton’s old job hold serious national security ramifications. That puts them in a bind as the publication date is only a month and a half away. Making major edits to the book would knock it off schedule and possibly kill the hype.
Remember, this is before any leak of the material happened. Then, just a day later the leak happens to The New York Times and the Bolton’s publisher rushes to make money off preorders within hours. Are we really supposed to believe that’s a coincidence?
What this looks like is a publisher realizing they may end up with a book full of redactions that’s essentially useless. By leaking the materials, it puts pressure on the White House to allow the book to be released without major edits, otherwise they face the backlash of being accused of a “cover up.”
Bolton’s attorney then pushed the issue further by releasing an email exchange with the NSC, claiming they were non responsive.
Statement of Charles J. Cooper, attorney for @AmbJohnBolton, along with email he sent to NSC asking for relevant chapter of his manuscript dealing with Ukraine to be reviewed ASAP. pic.twitter.com/WCPQmSwHjs
— Jake Tapper (@jaketapper) January 29, 2020
This is again too clever by half. This lawyer sent the email near close of business on Friday. By Saturday, the Times had the leak and the story had blown up. Of course he didn’t get a response first thing Monday morning on the matter. The fundamentals of the situation had obviously changed at that point.
Also, ask yourself why only a description of an excerpt got released and not the actual excerpt. A reasonable suspicion would be that the leaker didn’t want to break the law having just been warned about the existence of classified information, which again points to Bolton’s camp.
I can’t make a certain determination, but it sure looks like, based on the available evidence, that Bolton and his publisher panicked after they were notified their book might be nixed (or at least heavily changed). Magically, a leak occurs the next day which puts the onus on the White House not to “cover up” what’s in the book and allow its release. The gambit also manages to exponentially increase preorders purchases for a book that likely won’t be what it was originally promised to be.
Come on. That’s just too convenient.