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Bolton lawyer slams 'corrupted' White House review process after book leak

A lawyer for former national security adviser John BoltonJohn BoltonPence, other GOP officials expected to skip Trump send-off NSA places former GOP political operative in top lawyer position after Pentagon chief's reported order After insurrection: The national security implications MORE accused White House officials of leaking details of Bolton's forthcoming book following a report that the manuscript contained the allegation that President TrumpDonald TrumpLil Wayne gets 11th hour Trump pardon Trump grants clemency to more than 100 people, including Bannon Trump expected to pardon Bannon: reports MORE directly tied security aid for Ukraine to the country investigating his political rivals.

Attorney Charles Cooper said in a statement to The Associated Press and other news outlets that he submitted Bolton's manuscript to the National Security Council's Records Management Division to review its contents for classified information on Dec. 30, a standard practice for former government officials writing books.

Cooper said he was given assurances at the time that the manuscript would not be seen by those outside staffers involved in the review process.

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“It is clear, regrettably, from The New York Times article published today that the prepublication review process has been corrupted and that information has been disclosed by persons other than those involved in reviewing the manuscript," Cooper said in a statement.

The attorney's statement stopped short of confirming the contents of the Times's report. Cooper did not respond to requests for comment from The Hill.

The newspaper reported Sunday evening that Bolton writes in the manuscript of an August meeting with Trump in which the president said he wanted to continue a freeze on nearly $400 million in security aid for Ukraine until the government there agreed to investigate former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenTrump grants clemency to more than 100 people, including Bannon Scalise bringing Donna Brazile as guest to Biden inauguration Sidney Powell withdraws 'kraken' lawsuit in Georgia MORE and other Democrats.

The revelation complicates Trump's impeachment trial in the Senate, where senators are bitterly divided over whether to hear from witnesses like Bolton or move straight to a vote to acquit or convict the president.

The exchange detailed by Bolton directly contradicts repeated claims from Trump and his defenders that the president never explicitly made security aid contingent on investigations, a central tenet of the defense team's case. 

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The timing of the manuscript submission means the White House has had it for nearly a month, raising questions about whether the administration was aware of its contents heading into the impeachment trial.

The House impeached Trump last month for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.

The new details immediately sparked outcry among Democratic lawmakers who are hoping to hear from Bolton during the Senate trial. Four Republicans would need to vote with all 47 Democrats and independents to subpoena witnesses.

"John Bolton has the evidence," Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerNew York court worker arrested, accused of threats related to inauguration Schumer: Trump should not be eligible to run for office again McConnnell, McCarthy accept Biden invitation to pre-inauguration church service MORE (D-N.Y.) wrote in a tweet Sunday. "It’s up to four Senate Republicans to ensure that John Bolton, Mick MulvaneyMick MulvaneyFDA chief says he was 'disgusted' by Capitol riots, considered resigning Biden consumer bureau pick could take over agency on Inauguration Day The Hill's Morning Report - An inauguration like no other MORE, and the others with direct knowledge of President Trump’s actions testify in the Senate trial." 

The White House did not respond to a request for comment on the Times's report, but Trump's defense team is scheduled to continue with its opening arguments in the trial on Monday afternoon.