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Bolton decries White House ‘censorship’ in rare public remarks on his book

Former national security adviser John Bolton decried potential White House “censorship” of his upcoming book in a public discussion on Monday.

Bolton spoke at Duke University in his first appearance since the Senate voted not to hear testimony from him during President Trump‘s impeachment trial. He called the parts of his memoir dealing with Ukraine controversy that sparked impeachment “the sprinkles on an ice cream sundae,” The New York Times and CNN reported. 

“For all the focus on Ukraine and impeachment trial: to me there are portions of the manuscript that deal with Ukraine — I view that as the sprinkles on an ice cream sundae, in terms of the book,” he reportedly said. “This is an effort to write history. I did the best I can … We’ll see what happens with the censorship.”

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Bolton expressed concerns that his book would be “suppressed” by the White House if it sought to designate important parts as classified, delaying it from being published next month as scheduled. 

Last month, in a letter to Bolton’s attorney, an official with the White House’s National Security Council said that the manuscript includes “significant amounts of classified information.”

Trump himself has repeatedly lashed out over what he calls Bolton’s “nasty & untrue book” on his time in the administration.

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Bolton said Monday he hopes his private conversations with Trump can be “become public someday.” 

“He tweets, but I can’t talk about it. How fair is that?” he said. 

Bolton also criticized Trump’s foreign policy plans, specifically his effort at getting North Korea to denuclearize, saying “it was perfectly evident it was going to fail.”

He added that he thought the administration could apply more pressure on Iran, including with sanctions, which he said had a “very significant effect.”

Bolton left the administration in September after repeated disagreements with his former boss on foreign policy.

He reportedly went through the standard National Security Council ethics clearance process before leaving and was approved, a person familiar with Bolton’s post-departure dispute with the White House told CNN.

The Times previously reported that Bolton’s unpublished manuscript details how Trump wanted his assistance with Ukraine and specifically didn’t want to end the withholding of military aid until the country complied with Trump’s request to announce investigations that could benefit him politically. Trump’s dealings with Ukraine were the basis for the House’s impeachment inquiry against him. 

Asked Monday if he agrees with Trump’s assertion that the July 25 phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in which Trump pressed for the investigations was “perfect,” Bolton responded, “You’ll love Chapter 14.”

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