By Jan Wolfe and Eric Beech
WASHINGTON (Reuters) -The U.S. Justice Department closed its criminal investigation into whether a book by John Bolton about his time as President Donald Trump’s national security adviser illegally disclosed classified information, and dropped a civil lawsuit, Bolton’s lawyer said on Wednesday.
The lawsuit had sought to recover money Bolton made from the book, according to a court document filed in federal court in the District of Columbia.
The book, “The Room Where It Happened: A White House Memoir,” was highly critical of Trump, who had fired Bolton in September 2019 after roughly 17 months as national security adviser.
“By ending these proceedings without in any way penalizing Ambassador Bolton or limiting his proceeds from the book, the Department of Justice has tacitly acknowledged that President Trump and his White House officials acted illegitimately,” Bolton attorney Charles Cooper said in a statement.
Sarah Tinsley, a spokesperson for Bolton, said in a statement that the reversal was a “complete vindication” for the former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations.
A Justice Department spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Published in June 2020 by Simon & Schuster, the book provided an insider account of Trump’s “inconsistent, scattershot decision-making process,” according to the publisher.
Before the memoir hit bookstores, Trump’s Justice Department unsuccessfully sought a court order to prevent Bolton from publishing the book.
The Justice Department had argued that the book contained classified information that could threaten national security.
After losing its request for an injunction, the Justice Department pursued a civil lawsuit seeking to recover proceeds from the memoir’s sales.
Trump’s Justice Department launched a criminal investigation last September into whether Bolton mishandled classified information when he published the book.
Prosecutors had issued grand jury subpoenas seeking information about the book from Bolton’s literary agent, Javelin, and Simon & Schuster.
(Reporting by Jan Wolfe and Eric Beech; Editing by Leslie Adler and Peter Cooney)