Trump Administration Sues to Block Bolton’s Book From Being Published
Whatever’s in John Bolton’s book, President Donald Trump really doesn’t want it to see the light of day.
Trump’s Justice Department filed a lawsuit Tuesday asking a federal judge to block the former national security adviser’s book from being published next week over allegations that the expected bombshell is “rife with classified information.”
The civil lawsuit, filed in Washington Federal Court, came a day after Trump told reporters that Bolton would face “a very strong criminal problem” if the book, “The Room Where It Happened,” hits shelves as planned on June 23.
Tuesday’s lawsuit confirms there could be criminal issues at hand, as it alleges Bolton’s tell-all would amount to an “unauthorized disclosure of classified information” — which can warrant charges under the Espionage Act.
In the court papers, the Justice Department notes that Bolton’s book is “500-plus” pages and would net him $2 million.
Against that backdrop, lawyers for the department wrote that Bolton cut short an ongoing White House vetting process of the book despite being obligated to complete it by contract.
“(Bolton) struck a bargain with the United States as a condition of his employment in one of the most sensitive and important national security positions in the United States Government and now wants to renege on that bargain by unilaterally deciding that the prepublication review process is complete and deciding for himself whether classified information should be made public,” the department lawyers wrote.
Charles Cooper, Bolton’s attorney, said he was “reviewing” the lawsuit. Bolton’s publisher, Simon & Schuster, did not return a request for comment.
Cooper has previously said the White House review is complete and that Trump is only trying to stall publication.
The book, according to a press release from Simon & Schuster, alleges that Trump’s impeachable conduct spanned his entire foreign policy agenda — not just his effort to extort Ukraine’s government for political favors.
Despite the promise of intrigue, Bolton refused to testify about what he knew of Trump’s Ukraine scandal during the House impeachment inquiry.
Bolton’s subsequent book deal prompted widespread outrage, with both Democrats and Republicans saying he should have spilled the beans to Congress or not at all.
Since the publisher already has the book, the Justice Department is asking a judge to order Bolton to notify Simon & Schuster to delay publication pending the classification review “insofar as he has the authority to do so.”
Mark Zaid, a longtime national security attorney who has represented clients in similar situations, said the Justice Department is unlikely to be able to block the publisher from releasing the book.
“Bolton is in a world of legal trouble,” Zaid tweeted. “But the book WILL be published.”
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