The Trump administration filed a lawsuit last week to block the public release of a forthcoming memoir by former National Security Adviser John Bolton.
A federal judge on Friday declined to halt publication of Bolton’s book but did find that his conduct placed national security at risk and that he left himself exposed to possible criminal liability, ABC News reported.
Judge permits publication
Bolton’s highly publicized anti-Trump book, The Room Where It Happened: A White House Memoir, is set to be released nationwide on Tuesday, June 23, and in light of the fact that advance copies have already been sent to bookstores across the country and leaked to journalists, D.C. District Judge Royce Lamberth concluded that it would be impossible to prevent the book’s contents from going public.
Yet, following a private review with government attorneys of allegedly classified materials contained in the book, Judge Lamberth was “persuaded” that Bolton had short-circuited the proper review process and had placed the nation’s security in jeopardy by disclosing unauthorized and secret information. As such, Bolton opened himself up to legal consequences by way of his own actions, the judge found.
“For reasons that hardly need to be stated, the Court will not order a nationwide seizure and destruction of a political memoir,” Lamberth said in his ruling. “In taking it upon himself to publish his book without securing final approval from national intelligence authorities, Bolton may indeed have caused the country irreparable harm. But in the Internet age, even a handful of copies in circulation could irrevocably destroy confidentiality.”
Judge Lamberth went on to note that Bolton appeared to have violated a non-disclosure agreement he had signed with the White House and suggested that he could find himself held criminally liable for improperly disclosing classified information. Furthermore, Bolton is at risk of having all profits from the book seized by the government, Lamberth warned.
“This was Bolton’s bet: If he is right and the book does not contain classified information, he keeps the upside mentioned above; but if he is wrong, he stands to lose his profits from the book deal, exposes himself to criminal liability, and imperils national security. Bolton was wrong,” the judge said.
In a statement from Bolton attorney Chuck Cooper following the ruling, gratitude was expressed for the decision to not block the book’s release. However, Cooper said that he and his client “take issue” with the judge’s conclusion that Bolton violated his non-disclosure agreement and placed national security at risk.
Nevertheless, despite Judge Lamberth declining to block the impending release of the book, President Donald Trump declared on Twitter that the ruling represented a “BIG COURT WIN” and strongly implied that Bolton would indeed face legal retribution for exposing classified material.
White House weighs in
Likewise, White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany released a statement on Saturday that cited Judge Lamberth as saying that “Bolton likely jeopardized national security by disclosing classified information in violation of his nondisclosure agreement obligations.”
“The court denied the Government’s request for an injunction solely because Bolton’s wrongful conduct — carried out in secret — had already ensured that the book was so widely disseminated that the court believed it could no longer grant an effective remedy,” McEnany explained.
She added, “The Government intends to hold Bolton to the further requirements of his agreements and to ensure that he receives no profits from his shameful decision to place his desire for money and attention ahead of his obligations to protect national security.”