In response to The New York Times reporting on the leaked manuscript from former National Security Advisor John Bolton’s upcoming book about his time working for President Trump, Bolton’s former chief of staff wrote a scathing op-ed for Fox News that denounced the book for setting a “dangerous precedent” while demanding he withdraw it from publication until after the 2020 election.
“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 Advisor,” Fred Fleitz begins in the lengthy op-ed. “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.”
As reported by The Daily Wire’s Ryan Saavedra on Sunday, the Times wrote that Bolton alleges in his book that President Trump told him to freeze the $391 million in military aid to Ukraine until officials agreed to investigate Joe Biden’s corruption and 2016 election meddling.
Though Fleitz commends John Bolton for his service after knowing him for 30 years, praising his work in the State Department and in the Trump administration, he ultimately feels that Bolton’s book undermines executive privilege and will ultimately discourage future presidents from discussing important matters of foreign policy in confidence.
“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,” Fleitz says in the op-ed. “A book by a former national security advisor 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,” he continues.
Not only does Fleitz slam Bolton for seeking to publish the book in the first place, he also takes issue with Bolton’s decision to submit it for review with the National Security Council (NSC) despite knowing how prone the agency is for leaks.
“It also is inexplicable how such a sensitive manuscript could be sent to the NSC in the middle of the impeachment process,” he argues. “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 advisor 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.”
Fleitz concludes his op-ed by referencing former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, who chose to publish his book “Duty: Memoirs of a Secretary at War” that was critical of the Obama administration only after the 2012 election. In fact, Gates waited until January of 2014 to publish it.
“Gates established a principled precedent on how senior advisers to presidents should write about their experiences,” concludes Fleitz. “Given Ambassador Bolton’s long and distinguished record of government service, I believe it is vital that he follow this precedent.”
Author: Paul Bois