Ayyyeee… What’s Goodie Everyone. So I got some tea and it involves Former national security adviser John Bolton’s book release and The Justice department.
A federal judge on Saturday rejected the Justice Department’s emergency request to block publication of John Bolton’s White House memoir, but said the former Trump national security adviser’s actions raised “grave national security concerns.”
U.S. District Judge Royce C. Lamberth of Washington, D.C., denied the Trump administration’s request for a restraining order on the book, due for publication Tuesday, citing its publisher’s declaration that hundreds of thousands of copies have already shipped for sale.
“The Room Where It Happened” recounts Bolton’s 17 months as Trump’s top national security official and offers a withering portrait of the president as an “erratic” and “stunningly uninformed” leader. Bolton called Trump incompetent and “unfit for office” in promotional interviews.
Bolton, a veteran diplomat and security expert, denied the book contained any classified information. He asserted that after a painstaking, months long review, a career White House official, Ellen Knight, effectively cleared his manuscript in April before Trump political appointees undertook to stall it through November’s election.
Judge Lamberth noted that it appeared Bolton failed to complete a pre publication government review and get written authority that his manuscript contained no classified information before publishing.
“While Bolton’s unilateral conduct raises grave national security concerns, the government has not established that an injunction is an appropriate remedy,” Lamberth wrote. “For reasons that hardly need to be stated, the Court will not order nationwide seizure and destruction of a political memoir.”
However, Lamberth said a private review of passages the government alleged contain classified information persuaded him that Bolton “has gambled with the national security of the United States…and has exposed his country to harm and himself to civil liability.”
The judge’s ruling came after the government sued Bolton on Tuesday, seven days before the book’s planned June 23 publication, which has been excerpted and widely covered in the media. The court’s denial applied only to the government’s follow-up request Wednesday for an emergency injunction blocking publication, based on declarations by four of the government’s highest-ranking national security officials that the manuscript contained classified information. The government’s request included a sealed submission of what they said were six examples.
Legal experts said the ruling in some ways marked a “symbolic” victory for the government as far as stopping Bolton’s book. The government waited to the 11th hour to file suit, and Bolton’s attorney argued Friday it was political “theater” intended to placate the president.
Lamberth’s decision also dealt a personal and professional blow to Bolton, while the government continues to litigate to clawback any of his book profits, including a reported $2 million advance, by alleging he violated government nondisclosure agreements.
Mark S. Zaid, a lawyer who has represented more than two dozen current and former government employees who have sought to publish books, said the likelihood of the government being able to show “irreparable harm” now that an injunction was denied is “literally impossible.”
The government did not name publisher Simon & Schuster as a defendant but asked the court to enjoin it along with Bolton. In a statement, company spokesman Adam Rothberg said, “We are grateful that the Court has vindicated the strong First Amendment protections against censorship and prior restraint of publication. We are very pleased that the public will now have the opportunity to read Ambassador Bolton’s account of his time as National Security Advisor.”
Bolton attorney Charles J. Cooper said, “We welcome today’s decision by the Court denying the Government’s attempt to suppress Ambassador Bolton’s book.”