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Former US Foreign Policy Advisor, John Bolton
The Department of Justice (DOJ) has launched a criminal investigation into whether former White House national security adviser John Bolton illegally disclosed classified information in his memoir that was released earlier this year, The New York Times reported Tuesday.

The agency has reportedly convened a grand jury and subpoenaed Bolton's publisher, Simon & Schuster, for records related to communications surrounding the tell-all book, The Room Where It Happened.

A formal probe would mark a dramatic escalation over the book, which the White House sought to temporarily block from publication earlier this year, arguing it contained classified information. Bolton's book also painted the Trump administration in an unflattering light including details of infighting and the president's foreign policy.

The DOJ declined to comment when asked to confirm the investigation.

The Times reports that the investigation was opened after receiving a referral from Director of National Intelligence (DNI) John Ratcliffe. His signed declaration stated:
"The type of classified information in these passages is the type of information that foreign adversaries of the United States seek to obtain, at great cost, through covert intelligence.

"Unauthorized disclosure of these types of classified information could reveal, in some instances, the limits and, in some instances, the capabilities of U.S. intelligence collection and would cause irreparable damage to national security."
When the White House filed an emergency restraining order to halt the book from being published, the application included declarations from top U.S. intelligence and national security officials, including Ratcliffe and National Security Agency Director Paul Nakasone.

A week prior to the book's public release, news outlets including The Hill published details about the book that included explosive allegations that President Trump asked Chinese leader Xi Jinping to help him get a competitive edge in the upcoming presidential race against former Vice President Joe Biden, the then-presumptive Democratic nominee, by advocating that Beijing make more purchases of U.S. soybeans and wheat to help his electoral chances with U.S. farmers.

At the time, Bolton's publisher slammed the lawsuit in a statement, calling it "the latest in a long running series of efforts by the Administration to quash publication of a book it deems unflattering to the President."

A representative for Bolton declined to comment on the reported DOJ probe.