Following his acrimonious departure from the White House, former National Security Adviser John Bolton has insisted that he will have his “say in due course.”
It hasn’t yet been a full week, but it appears he’s found a vehicle for clearing the air. According to two people with knowledge of the situation, Bolton has already expressed interest in writing a book on his time in the Trump administration, and has been in contact in recent days with literary agents interested in making that happen.
“He has a lot to dish,” one of the sources said, adding it was not clear if Bolton had settled on an agency yet.
Reached by The Daily Beast on Monday afternoon, Bolton only replied, “No comment” when asked about discussions with book agents and his potential project. But if he goes down this path, he’d be merely the latest former Trump official to try and turn their noisy exit into bestselling gold.
During the Trump presidency, there have been several occasions in which a former loyalist has published a “tell-all” book or memoir that infuriated the president and his senior staff.
Last year, Omarosa Manigault Newman, a former Trump friend and Apprentice candidate who took a senior post in his administration, revealed she had surreptitiously recorded audio of the president and blasted him as a mentally unstable racist in her book UNHINGED. Trump’s attorney Charles Harder responded by sending the publisher Simon & Schuster a letter threatening them “should you proceed with publishing and selling the Book,” and that such “claims would include, among others, tortious interference with the Agreement, and inducement of Ms. Manigault-Newman to breach [her NDA].” (For all the legal bluster from Team Trump, the threat proved empty.)
Earlier this year, former Trump adviser Cliff Sims came out with a different tell-all, titled Team of Vipers, about life and tumult inside Trumpworld. The book enraged the president, and led to his presidential campaign filing an arbitration claim against Sims, claiming he violated an NDA. This led to the former White House official suing Trump, alleging the president was trying to “silence” former staffers and was trampling on his First Amendment rights.
It is unclear if Bolton has also signed an NDA, though it seems likely he has owing to the position he held and the requirements placed on other White House officials.
When unflattering books about him are released, the president is known to obsess over media coverage of the published accounts, and will often instruct his lieutenants and senior White House aides to wage public-relations campaigns against the authors.
It’s unclear what, exactly, a Bolton-penned book on the Trump era would look like, but he left the administration on a highly contentious, abrupt note. And if history is any guide, a new book would likely be well positioned to provoke Trump’s ire. In 2007, Bolton penned a book about his time working in the Bush administration which, a review from the Economist noted, came off like the musings of a “domineering bully.”
“Surely even John Bolton cannot be quite as curmudgeonly as this?” read the review. “In a memoir devoted mainly to his nearly six years of government service under President George Bush, America's former ambassador to the United Nations has a bad word for almost everyone who dared stand up to him.”
Bush, unlike President Trump, didn’t try to publicly humiliate Bolton on his way out the door.
Early last week, Trump posted to Twitter that “I informed John Bolton last night that his services are no longer needed at the White House,” and that “I disagreed strongly with many of his suggestions, as did others in the Administration, and therefore I asked John for his resignation, which was given to me this morning.” Shortly after, Bolton himself took to Twitter to claim that Trump couldn’t have fired him, because he had already quit.
From there on, the White House went out of its way to lash out at Bolton on the record. White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham texted The Daily Beast on Tuesday, “Last night, Potus said he wanted Bolton’s resignation on his desk tomorrow AM. Bolton delivered it. Simply put, many of Bolton’s policy priorities did not align w POTUS.” Bolton, one of the administration’s most prominent war hawks, quickly responded in a text message stating that Grisham’s “statement is flatly incorrect.”
As Bolton plots his next act, it’s also unclear whether a book would be his only media endeavor. Shortly after leaving the Bush administration in 2007, he also joined Fox News, where he remained as a contributor until being hired by Trump. Although some Fox News personalities like Tucker Carlson have been very critical of Bolton upon his departure from the Trump administration, he was already texting with Fox News personalities, spinning his side of the story of his departure.