Donald Trump is good for literature. Actually … that’s overstating it. A lot. But Trump is certainly good for publishers, and for dramatic titles. In one-word titles alone, it’s possible to build a pretty decent description of Trump using Rage, Unhinged, Disloyal, Fear, Hoax. You certainly don’t have to go to Insane Clown President, but … that’s also not a bad description.
The last few weeks have seen Trump’s leveraging his family to fight—and fail—to stop the publication of a book by his niece Mary Trump, and books by former Trump attorney Michael Cohen and former journalist Bob Woodward. The trio of tomes are all hot off the presses and still in the headlines. But it requires rewinding to June 20 (also known as March the 121st , in pandemic dating) to find the focus of Trump’s current disloyal, unhinged, rage hoax. That was the date that a federal judge dismissed attempts by the White House to block publication of John Bolton’s book detailing his time as Trump’s national security adviser.
During that court case, the judge pointed out multiple times that Trump was attempting to block a book that had already been printed, distributed to warehouses, was on the shelves at thousands of stores, and had already been read by hundreds of critics and journalists. Open barn door? Meet horse. But the judge did not address claims from the Department of Justice that Bolton may have violated national security, though he noted if it was true, Bolton could lose all the profits from the book deal that kept him conveniently mum during Trump’s impeachment. And now the Justice Department has announced an investigation into Bolton because … sure, why not?
The book has been on the stands for four months and is no longer hanging onto a slot in even an extended list of best sellers. There’s nothing to be gained by going after Bolton other than the demonstration that people like Roger Stone, convicted of multiple crimes, get to walk away for being Trump’s pals, while people like Bolton get the weight of the DOJ tossed their way for the crime of insufficient toadying.
But it’s hard to feel like there’s a good guy on either side of this case. After all, Bolton failed to come forward when his testimony mattered, what he ultimately revealed was confirmation of things that had already been stated, and … he’s John Bolton. The best possible ending for this story is that both Trump and Bolton come out with their sub-mud reputations sullied by whatever it is that’s worse than mud.
According to The New York Times, a team within the DOJ has convened a grand jury to hear evidence about Bolton’s use of classified information in his book, aka I couldn’t think of a title so I just stole a line from Hamilton. Bolton has denied that he published classified information. Trump has argued back that Bolton is “a dope” and “incompetent” and “a washed up creepster who … should be in jail” for “trying to make me look bad.” It’s unclear if the grand jury will reward these rubber-meets-glue arguments with an indictment, but it would probably be pretty interesting—and kind of hilarious—to hear the presentation.
And yes, to be honest it’s clear that the White House purposely refused to provide Bolton with responses on the classification of his submitted manuscript simply in an effort to delay publication and provide Trump with leverage to do exactly what he’s doing right now: conduct a political persecution of a perceived enemy. Bolton shouldn’t face charges for purely political reasons, if for no other reason than on a “first they came for John Bolton, and …” basis. Still, every DOJ official tied up with going after John Bolton could be busy persecuting a human being instead, so let’s hope this takes some time. And please, if someone is going to leak classified information, how about the transcripts for the presentation to the grand jury?