WASHINGTON – The Justice Department has closed its probe into whether John Bolton inappropriately disclosed classified information in his tell-all memoir and dropped a parallel lawsuit against the former Trump administration national security adviser, a spokeswoman for Bolton said Wednesday.
Bolton said he is now considering legal action against the U.S. officials involved in those cases. "I'm going to be looking at what the appropriate remedies are," Bolton told USA TODAY.
He said the two cases were "impermissible and represented an abuse of power" and the lawyers involved likely have some "legal, ethical liabilities."
The Trump administration initially tried to block Bolton from publishing the book, "The Room Where It Happened," which portrayed Trump as erratic, uninformed and driven solely by self-interest. When that failed, the Justice Department sued Bolton and opened a grand jury investigation into whether Bolton unlawfully disclosed classified information.
Those matters were passed on to the Biden administration and his attorney general, Merrick Garland, in January. A Justice Department spokesperson confirmed the lawsuit had been dropped but declined further comment.
Sarah Tinsley, an aide to Bolton, said his office had been notified that both matters were now closed by the federal court handling the cases.
“We are very pleased that the Department of Justice has dismissed with prejudice its civil lawsuit against Ambassador Bolton and has terminated grand jury proceedings," she said.
"We argued from the outset that neither action was justifiable, because they were initiated only as a result of President Trump’s politically motivated order to prevent publication of the Ambassador’s book before the 2020 election," she said.
Bolton left the Trump administration on acrimonious terms, after repeated clashes over a spate of foreign policy issues. When Bolton said he planned to write a book, former President Donald Trump publicly warned his one-time aide against it.
"I will consider every conversation with me as president highly classified," Trump said last summer. "If the book gets out, he’s broken the law and I would think he would have criminal problems. I hope so."
But Bolton said Wednesday "what concerned (Trump) was not the classified information but the criticism of him."
The book was highly unflattering of Trump. Among other things, Bolton wrote that Trump offered to help Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan with a U.S. investigation into a Turkish state-owned bank and asked Chinese leader Xi Jinping for reelection help.
"It was breathtaking," Bolton wrote.
On Wednesday, Bolton said Trump administration officials "browbeat" Ellen Knight, the National Security Council’s career official who reviewed Bolton's book for classified material.
"They tried to get her to change her story," he said, referring to her conclusion that the book contained no classified information.
Bolton said he was weighing various options against those involved in the cases against him, including going to the Justice Department's internal watchdog, the D.C. bar association and other ethics officials.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Justice Department drops Trump-era investigation of Bolton over memoir