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Former acting DNI says Bolton should have come forward sooner if he had legitimate concerns, calls decision to publish memoir "suspect"

President Trump's former acting director of national intelligence said Monday that John Bolton's decision to publish a memoir detailing his concerns about President Trump — rather than speak up immediately — is "suspect."
 
"If John Bolton believed any of these issues that he's bringing forward now, he should've brought those same concerns forward immediately. These are very big charges," Richard Grenell told CBS News in his first network interview since leaving the post in May. "He didn't bring those forward when he heard them. He didn't stand up. He packaged them for a book that we know he got a huge advance on."

"Someone who is not willing to testify under oath about something that they see in the immediacy shouldn't be packaging stories later for big book deals," Grenell added, referring to Bolton's decision not to cooperate with the House impeachment inquiry. "I think that the packaging of that information is then suspect, as to whether or not the stories are true."

Bolton told ABC News on Monday that his testimony "would not have made any difference" because minds were made up on Capitol Hill.

In recent weeks, the former national security adviser's memoir has been entangled in a legal dispute with the Department of Justice, which tried to block the book's publication by claiming that it contains "classified information." But after a review of classified government declarations that detailed concerns with the manuscript, a federal judge decided this weekend not to block the release of "The Room Where it Happened," given that it was already in the hands of reporters and sent to distributors.

But the judge sided with the government on classification objections, writing, "the Court is persuaded that Defendant Bolton likely jeopardized national security by disclosing classified information in violation of his nondisclosure agreements."

Bolton told ABC News that he and his lawyers "respectfully disagree" with the judge.

When asked if sources and methods to gather intelligence were compromised as a result of Bolton's book disclosures, Grenell said, "I think what we see is that he has released information that is classified information, and I leave it up to [the Department of Justice] to determine what to do next."

"I'm glad that [the DOJ] is taking this very seriously," he added. "They're going to look at all of the information that is presented ... to figure out exactly how deep this goes and what types of charges — if any — there should be."

In his book, Bolton frequently alleges that Mr. Trump acted against American interests in his dealings with other countries. In one section, he claimed that Mr. Trump pushed the Chinese president to agree to purchase American agricultural products to boost his reelection standing.

During a June 2019 meeting in Japan, Bolton writes, Mr. Trump "turned the conversation to the coming U.S. presidential election, alluding to China's economic capability and pleading with Xi to ensure he'd win. He stressed the importance of farmers and increased Chinese purchases of soybeans and wheat in the electoral outcome."

Bolton also claimed, among other allegations, that Mr. Trump supported China's construction of "concentration camps" and that he did not know Britain possessed nuclear weapons.

Grenell spoke in defense of Mr. Trump. "I've seen President Trump say, 'I don't care how this plays; this is the right thing to do.' I see that over and over and over," Grenell said. "There's just so much evidence that the president has not taken the typical Republican position on different issues, whether it's foreign policy or domestic."

"John Bolton didn't understand that Donald Trump is the one who is the president, not John Bolton's policies," Grenell added. "And when you work for President Trump, you work for his policies. That's very clear. And John Bolton should've understood that."

On Monday, Mr. Trump renewed his attack on Bolton and the book, tweeting, "I gave John Bolton, who was incapable of being Senate confirmed because he was considered a wacko, and was not liked, a chance. I always like hearing differing points of view. He turned out to be grossly incompetent, and a liar. See judge's opinion. CLASSIFIED INFORMATION!!!"

Bolton's memoir is published by Simon & Schuster, a division of ViacomCBS.

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