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

A lawyer for former national security adviser John BoltonJohn BoltonJudge appears skeptical of Bolton's defense of publishing book without White House approval Maximum pressure is keeping US troops in Iraq and Syria Woodward book trails Bolton, Mary Trump in first-week sales 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 John TrumpBiden says voters should choose who nominates Supreme Court justice Trump, Biden will not shake hands at first debate due to COVID-19 Pelosi: Trump Supreme Court pick 'threatens' Affordable Care Act 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 BidenBiden says voters should choose who nominates Supreme Court justice Trump, Biden will not shake hands at first debate due to COVID-19 Joe Biden should enact critical government reforms if he wins 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 SchumerPelosi: Trump Supreme Court pick 'threatens' Affordable Care Act Will Democrats attempt to pack the Supreme Court again? Pelosi slams Trump executive order on pre-existing conditions: It 'isn't worth the paper it's signed on' MORE (D-N.Y.) wrote in a tweet Sunday. "It’s up to four Senate Republicans to ensure that John Bolton, Mick MulvaneyMick MulvaneyOn The Money: House panel pulls Powell into partisan battles | New York considers hiking taxes on the rich | Treasury: Trump's payroll tax deferral won't hurt Social Security Blockchain trade group names Mick Mulvaney to board Mick Mulvaney to start hedge fund 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.