Fred Fleitz, the former Chief of Staff to Bolton both in the mid 2000s and in 2018, believes that Bolton made a big mistake writing a tell-all book to be published during Trump’s reelection campaign, and is calling on Bolton to withdraw the book immediately:
FOX NEWS – It was crushing to read weekend press reports that my friend and former boss John Bolton plans to publish a tell-all book on his time as President Trump’s National Security Adviser. The book reportedly will be published in March 2020. Given the importance of protecting a president’s confidential discussions with his senior advisers, I strongly disagree with Bolton’s decision to release the book before the November presidential election and call on him to withdraw it from the publisher immediately.
I have known John Bolton for 30 years and served as his chief of staff twice, at the State Department from 2001-2005 and at the White House National Security Council in 2018. He is an exceptional national security expert and a man of great integrity. President Trump’s choice of Bolton was one of his best personnel decisions and was I very sorry when the courageous and visionary national security adviser left the White House after the relationship broke down.
Bolton played an important role in some of President Trump’s most successful foreign policy decisions, including withdrawing from the nuclear deal with Iran, moving the American embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, and the 2018 Counterterrorism Strategy. While there was some criticism of Bolton’s performance as National Security Adviser, most of it was unfair and reflected the difficulty of overseeing President Trump’s national security policies when careerists and Obama holdovers in other government agencies, especially the State Department, were actively working to obstruct and defeat the president’s policies.
Fleitz believes Bolton’s book sets a “dangerous precedent”…
Presidents must be able to candidly consult with their advisers without worrying they will leak these discussions to the press or obtain high-dollar book contracts to publish them. A book by a former national security adviser ahead of a president’s reelection bid may set a dangerous precedent since it could discourage future presidents from seeking advice from expert advisers on sensitive national security matters.
This is why executive privilege exists: to allow the president and other senior officials to keep certain communications and internal deliberations private if disclosing them would disrupt the functions or decision-making processes of the executive branch.
Fleitz says that while Bolton may not have leaked the book, he’s still responsible for the leak:
I haven’t seen Bolton’s book manuscript and I don’t know what’s in it. I take Bolton and his staff at their word that they did not leak the manuscript to the New York Times. But I believe they are still responsible for this leak since Bolton’s explosive book was sent to the leak-prone National Security Council for a security review in December 2019 so the book could be published in the spring of 2020. It also is inexplicable how such a sensitive manuscript could be sent to the NSC in the middle of the impeachment process. Under such circumstances, a leak of the manuscript was all but certain.
If a manuscript of this sensitivity was to be published at all, this should happen after the election, not in the spring of 2020. I don’t understand the need for a former National Security Adviser to publish a tell-all book critical of a president he served, especially during a presidential reelection campaign that will determine the fate of the country. There will be a time for Bolton to speak out without appearing to try to tip a presidential election.
As much as I’ve been a fan of Bolton over the years, I do think Fleitz is right here. Even if the impeachment weren’t happening right now, the reelection campaign is happening and it’s just not the right time to release this kind of tell-all book, especially from someone so close to the president.
But it is curious, or ‘inexplicable’ as Fleitz points out, that Bolton would hand over such sensitive material to the leaky NSC during this impeachment saga. It really makes me wonder if there’s some bad blood between Trump and Bolton and this is his way of getting back at Trump? Seriously, that doesn’t sound like the Bolton I’ve respected over many years and I find it difficult to believe he would do such a thing. I’ll wait until we know more before I render judgement…