(New York, NY) — The Justice Department has opened a criminal investigation into whether or not former national security advisor John Bolton’s book disclosed classified information. PEN America CEO Suzanne Nossel said the following:

“The administration’s heavy-handed and politically-motivated reaction to the publication of John Bolton’s book forms part of a pattern of White House efforts to punish vocal critics. In that context, the opening of a criminal inquiry into Bolton’s conduct comes across as intended less to protect national security than to punish perceived disloyalty and deter unflattering disclosures. This administration has repeatedly manipulated the process of pre-publication review to suit political aims, jeopardizing the credibility of what should be a legitimate safeguard against unauthorized and potentially harmful disclosures.”

PEN America filed suit against the Trump administration in 2018 to prevent the White House from using the levers of government to punish reporters.