Judge Denies Trump Administration’s Bid to Immediately Block Bolton Book

By Janita Kan
Janita Kan
Janita Kan
Janita Kan is a reporter based in New York covering the Justice Department, courts, and First Amendment.
June 20, 2020Updated: June 21, 2020

A federal court judge has denied the Trump administration’s request to immediately block the publication of a book by former national security adviser John Bolton.

U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth denied the Justice Department’s emergency request for a temporary restraining order or a preliminary injunction on June 20, saying that the government hadn’t demonstrated that an injunction is an appropriate remedy. The order allows Bolton to proceed in the dissemination of his book titled “The Room Where It Happened.”

The book, which is scheduled to be released on June 23, recounts Bolton’s 17-month stint working as a top adviser to President Donald Trump in the White House. It includes allegations about Trump and his presidency, which have since been refuted by the president, the White House, and several top administration officials.

Despite rejecting the government request, Lamberth expressed concerns that Bolton had “gambled with the national security of the United States” by abandoning a prepublication review process for his book, which, according to the government, still contains classified information.

“He has exposed his country to harm and himself to civil (and potentially criminal) liability. But these facts do not control the motion before the Court. The government has failed to establish that an injunction will prevent irreparable harm. Its motion is accordingly DENIED,” Lamberth wrote in his order (pdf).

The judge said that he had reviewed the classified information submitted by the government and was persuaded that Bolton will likely jeopardize “national security by disclosing classified information in violation of his nondisclosure agreement obligations,” when he rushed the publication of his book.

He said Bolton now “stands to lose his profits from the book deal, exposes himself to criminal liability, and imperils national security.”

The judge said that while Bolton may have improperly rushed the publication process, he also believes an injunction is unlikely to prevent irreparable harm to the government given that the book had already been disseminated widely.

The book’s publisher, Simon & Schuster, told the court that over 200,000 copies of the book have been shipped domestically and thousands of copies of the book have been delivered to booksellers around the globe. Meanwhile, copies of the book have also been distributed to media outlets.

“With hundreds of thousands of copies around the globe—many in newsrooms—the damage is done. There is no restoring the status quo,” he said.

Bolton’s lawyer Charles Cooper told The Epoch Times in a statement that he welcomes the court’s decision to allow his client’s book to proceed.

“We welcome today’s decision by the Court denying the Government’s attempt to suppress Ambassador Bolton’s book,” Cooper said. “We respectfully take issue, however, with the Court’s preliminary conclusion at this early stage of the case that Ambassador Bolton did not comply fully with his contractual prepublication obligation to the Government, and the case will now proceed to development of the full record on that issue. The full story of these events has yet to be told—but it will be.”

Meanwhile, Trump characterized Lamberth’s ruling as a “BIG COURT WIN against Bolton” in a Twitter post on June 20 responding to the decision. The president agreed with the judge, saying that there was “nothing the highly respected Judge could have done about stopping” the book’s dissemination, since it had already been “given out and leaked to many people and the media.”

“BUT, strong & powerful statements & rulings on MONEY & on BREAKING CLASSIFICATION were made. Bolton broke the law and has been called out and rebuked for so doing, with a really big price to pay. He likes dropping bombs on people, and killing them. Now he will have bombs dropped on him!” Trump wrote in his post.

White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany said in a statement that the White House “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.”

The Justice Department didn’t immediately respond to The Epoch Times’ request for comment.

The Trump administration sued Bolton on June 16, alleging that the book contains “significant quantities of classified information” and asking the judge to order Bolton to abide by his government contract and complete the classification review. The government also filed an emergency motion on June 17 asking the court to order Bolton to delay the release of the book and take all necessary steps to recover the copies that have already been disseminated.

Ivan Pentchoukov contributed to this report.