Two former high-ranking officials who served in Donald Trump’s cabinet are waging a very public and ugly war against each other as they both maneuver for a possible run to be the Republican Party’s presidential nominee in 2024.
Former Secretay of State Mike Pompeo has been out hawking his memoir, “Never Give an Inch: Fighting for the America I Love,” and in it, he accused former Trump national security advisor John Bolton of divulging secrets serious enough that jail time should be considered.
At issue is Bolton’s Trump-era tell-all, “There Room Where It Happened,” that led Pompeo to write he would be willing to appear in court to testify against his former conservative colleague after complaining Bolton should “be in jail, for spilling classified information”.
Appearing on “CNN This Morning” with co-host Kaitlan Collins, Bolton said Pompeo has his facts all wrong and fired off some barbs of his own.
“He [Pompeo] says yourself-serving stories contained classified info and deeply sensitive details involving a sitting commander-in-chief. What’s your response to Secretary Pompeo?” the CNN host asked.
“Well, what he knows in fact, or should know, is my book went through a four-month-long pre-publication review process precisely to make sure there was no classified information in the book,” Bolton replied. “It was arduous at times, I can tell you. The National Security Council senior director responsible for that review cleared the book.”
“Inside the White House, because Donald Trump didn’t want the book published before the election, he fired the senior director, a career employee of the National Archives from her job and tried to get another review going,” he elaborated. “An interesting point here, and this is critical, before the Justice Department was ordered to bring the suit to stop publication of my book, they interviewed the Senior Director, Ellen Knight for 18 hours over five days in the white house — they must have forgotten the thumb screws and the rubber hoses to get her to change her story, and she wouldn’t.”
“I think if there’s an investigative reporter that has spare time, they ought to look at who in the White House and elsewhere in the administration, in the counsel’s office, the top political levels at the Justice Department followed Trump’s orders to try to suppress the book,” he added. “I’m not talking about the line attorneys at the Department of Justice, but Trump’s top advisers who were content to try and suppress it.”
“You’re implying that something illegal happened? what are you saying there?” host Collins pressed.
“Well, reporters shelter under the first amendment frequently — I’m sure that’s much on your mind,” he replied. “This is a classic effort by Trump at prior restraint. In fact, I was told that a very top Justice Department official, on hearing that the book had been cleared, said, and I quote, roughly, ‘I don’t give a blank about the facts, I want the case brought.’ I think there’s a lot there. This is entirely consistent with Trump’s behavior, trying to suppress other books.”
Turning to Pompeo, he continued, “I think Pompeo knows or should have known about it. If he didn’t know about it, it’s incompetence in writing the book for not checking out the facts before he put it down on paper.”
“If he did know about it, that’s malicious and well beyond reckless to say things like that, he concluded.
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