Like anyone with access to classified information, he signed a prepublication-review agreement. Each government agency that allowed Bolton access to its information—and, in the case of a national-security adviser, that would have been virtually all of them—has the right to review his manuscript and to excise purportedly improper disclosures. Bolton left the government on bad terms with Trump, and it looks like the Administration may be taking revenge through the review process. Charles Cooper, Bolton’s lawyer, has already complained about how the Administration is delaying and revising Bolton’s book, and his publication date has already slipped from March to May. But there’s no guarantee that the review process will even be finished by May, either. (Cooper and a spokeswoman for Simon & Schuster declined to comment.)
House investigators asked Bolton to testify last year, but he said he would do so only if a court ordered him to. The Democrats leading the probe declined to enter into lengthy court battles with witnesses, so the House voted for impeachment without hearing his testimony. At the last moment, Bolton said that he would comply with a subpoena to testify before the Senate trial, but the Republican majority refused to call any witnesses. So Bolton made it through the Ukraine investigation without having to reveal what was in his book. Still, if he had testified, most of his story would already be out in the open, and the Administration would have no grounds to claim that it was still classified since he had already revealed it in testimony to Congress. In other words, by ducking public testimony, Bolton protected the commercial value of his book, but he left himself at the mercy of the prepublication-review process. That may turn out to have been a bad bet.