The Justice Department’s attempt to block the release of John Bolton’s tell-all book has been denied.
Judge Royce Lamberth denied the request to block the sale of the former national security adviser’s memoir, ‘The Room Where It Happened: A White House Memoir’ in a ruling Saturday.
Lamberth, a Reagan appointee, heard arguments Friday over Zoom from Bolton’s lawyer Charles Cooper and Deputy Assistant Attorney General David Morrell, representing the government.
This came after the Trump administration sued Bolton on Tuesday in order to postpone the release of his book because of concerns that classified information could be exposed
The book was leaked to the media the next day.
It contains a number of explosive claims about President Trump, including that he asked China for help with his re-election bid – a move similar to how Trump interacted with Ukraine, which led to him being impeached.
The Justice Department’s attempt to block the release of John Bolton’s (left) tell-all book has been denied. The book makes some explosive claims about President Trump (right)
The federal judge ruled in favor of Bolton Saturday saying he can move forward in publishing his tell-all book despite efforts by the Trump administration to block it.
The decision from Lamberth marks a victory for Bolton in a court case that involved core First Amendment and national security concerns.
Lamberth said that with 200,000 copies already distributed to booksellers across the country, attempting to block its release would be futile.
‘A single dedicated individual with a book in hand could publish its contents far and wide from his local coffee shop,’ Lamberth wrote.
‘With hundreds of thousands of copies around the globe – many in newsrooms – the damage is done. There is no restoring the status quo.’
But Lamberth also blasted Bolton for the way he went about publishing the book saying he had taken it ‘upon himself to publish his book without securing final approval from national intelligence authorities’ and that he could have caused irreparable harm to national security.
John Bolton’s lawyers argued that distribution of his book can’t be stopped, using as an example the fact that CBS News reporter Paula Reid (right) brought a copy to the White House and held it in her hand as she questioned press secretary Kayleigh McEnany (left)
The Trump administration sued John Bolton on Tuesday, trying to stop the release of his White House memoir, due out June 23
The judge said Bolton had ‘gambled with the national security of the United States’ by opting out of a prepublication review process meant to prevent government officials from spilling classified secrets in memoirs they publish.
The ruling clears the path for a broader election-year readership and distribution of a memoir, due out Tuesday, that paints an unflattering portrait of President Donald Trump’s foreign policy decision-making during the turbulent year-and-a-half that Bolton spent in the White House.
Cooper argued that it was too late now that Bolton’s book was in the hands of journalists and hundreds of thousands of copies have been sent to bookstores nationwide and abroad.
‘It seems to me, as we used to say in Texas, that the horse is out of the barn,’ Lamberth said. ‘What am I supposed to do?’
Bolton’s legal team had made that argument in a filing made Thursday night.
Copies of the book ended up in the hands of reporters working for The New York Times and The Washington Post on Wednesday. DailyMail.com obtained a copy Wednesday evening.
‘Indeed, the surreal nature of the Government’s request to enjoin publication and distribution of the book was driven home earlier today when a CBS News reporter, holding a copy of the book in her hand, questioned the President’s press secretary about passages in the book on the White House lawn,’ Bolton’s legal team said, referencing CBS’ Paula Reid, who participated in a gaggle in the White House driveway with press secretary Kayleigh McEnany.
‘For the Government is asking the Court to order Ambassador Bolton to do something he is powerless to do,’ they said. ‘The practical reality is that neither Ambassador Bolton nor his publisher, Simon & Schuster, has any ability to stop copies from being sold to the general public on June 23.’
During court Friday, Morrell suggested the judge could order digital and audio copies of Bolton’s book not be sold.
‘There is still an interest we have in limiting the further mass dissemination of this book,’ he said.
Morrell argued that Bolton shouldn’t have gone ahead with publication of the book because he never finished a review process, which would determine if the book contained classified information.
The president argues it did.
In court, Cooper suggested questions about whether the book contained classified information could be saved for a later date.
That being said, the lawyer also revealed what he called a ‘troubling revelation,’ that the Trump political appointee called in to take over the classification review of Bolton’s book never got the proper training until June 10 – nine days ago.
Cooper argued that the administartion rushed Michael Ellis, the NSC’s senior director for intelligence programs, onto the job to overrule Ellen Knight, the National Security Council’s senior director for prepublication review, who’s in charge of reviewing manuscripts so no classified information slips out.
She had informed Bolton on April 24 that after a nearly four-month back-and-forth over the manuscript’s contents, ‘that’s the last edit I really have to provide for you.’
In the Thursday night filing from Bolton’s legal team, the lawyers wrote, ‘At that moment, Ambassador Bolton fulfilled any obligation he had under the express terms of his non-disclosure agreement with the government.’
‘Nevertheless, the President, and those acting at his direction, have sought to delay publication of the book until after the election by withholding the customary pro-forma letter confirming that the book was cleared for publication,’ the filing read.
Judge Lamberth asked why Bolton didn’t go to court to get its permission, instead of simply deciding to go ahead and publish the tome.
In the government’s lawsuit, the Department of Justice blasts Bolton for ‘unilaterally deciding that the prepublication review process is complete and deciding for himself whether classified information should be made public.’
Lamberth also asked Morrell if it was unusual that a senior official would intervene in the review process of a book after a career official had already deemed no classified information was present.
Morrell knew of no other example, but argued that Bolton was an extraordinary circumstance because of the role he held – that of national security adviser – and because he had very recently served the administration, leaving in September 2019.
Most of Friday’s back-and-forth revolved around the book already being widely disseminated and if it contained classified information.
Lamberth said he needed to look at said classified information before making a decision, though will need to rule by Tuesday, June 23 – the book’s publication date.
The legal document filed Thursday night by Bolton’s team also argued he should be allowed to go ahead with his book release on First Amendment grounds.
‘If the First Amendment stands for anything, it is that the Government does not have the power to clasp its hand over the mouth of a citizen attempting to speak on a matter of great public import,’ Bolton’s lawyers wrote.
They charged the U.S. government with asking the court to stop the book’s distribution ‘for the transparent purpose of preventing Ambassador Bolton from revealing embarrassing facts about the President’s conduct in office.’
‘It is difficult to conceive of speech that is closer to the core of the First Amendment than speech concerning presidential actions in office, including actions at the heart of the President’s impeachment, and it is difficult to conceive of a greater attack on the First Amendment than the suppression of that speech in the service of a reelection campaign,’ the lawyers said.
Bolton’s team argued that this was ‘precisely’ what was happening.
On Tuesday, the same day the White House sued the former Trump aide, Bolton was informed by the Trump administration of more changes that needed to be made to the book.
They included ‘passages describing or recounting a significant majority of the President’s conversations with his advisors and with foreign leaders.’
‘The government also deleted numerous passages portraying President Trump in an unflattering light,’ the lawyers said.
A day before, Trump told reporters, ‘I will consider every conversation with me as president highly classified.’
‘So that would mean that if he wrote a book and if the book gets out he’s broken the law. I would think he would have criminal problems,’ Trump said of Bolton.