Trump Administration Sues Bolton to Block Publication of Memoir

June 17, 2020 Updated: June 17, 2020

The Trump administration filed a lawsuit on June 16 seeking to prevent former national security adviser John Bolton from publishing a book that details his 17-month stint in the White House.

The lawsuit, filed Tuesday in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, comes a week before the highly anticipated memoir, “The Room Where It Happened,” was set to be published. It alleged that the book is “rife with classified information” and would compromise national security if published before completion of a government review.

“[Bolton] regularly came into possession of some of the most sensitive classified information that exists in the U.S. government,” the lawsuit stated.

“Within two months of his departure from government service, defendant had negotiated a book deal allegedly worth about $2 million and had drafted a 500-plus page manuscript rife with classified information, which he proposed to release to the world.”

The lawsuit stated that the White House National Security Council (NSC) “has determined that the manuscript in its present form contains certain passages—some up to several paragraphs in length—that contain classified national security information.”

Its publication, which was set for June 23, “would cause irreparable harm, because the disclosure of instances of classified information in the manuscript reasonably could be expected to cause serious damage, or exceptionally grave damage, to the national security of the United States,” the lawsuit said.

Bolton, who served as national security adviser from April 2018 to September 2019 before he was fired by President Donald Trump, said in a statement this week that his memoir contains explosive details about his 17 months at the White House.

Publisher Simon and Schuster said Bolton’s book details Trump’s dealings with China, Russia, Ukraine, North Korea, Iran, the United Kingdom, France, and Germany.

The publisher added in a statement that the lawsuit “is nothing more than the latest in a long-running series of efforts by the administration to quash publication of a book it deems unflattering to the president.”

The Justice Department (DOJ) in the lawsuit requested that the court declare that Bolton in his memoir violated his nondisclosure agreement, by disclosing classified information, which is a federal crime.

The DOJ requested that the federal court order the former national security adviser to “instruct or request” Simon and Schuster to delay publication to allow the memoir to undergo a national security review process, and “make the necessary deletions of classified information.”

The lawsuit also sought to order the publisher to “retrieve and dispose of” existing copies of the book.

Bolton’s lawyer Charles Cooper said they were reviewing the lawsuit and “will respond in due course.” Cooper previously said his client worked for months with the NSC to ensure classified material is not released.

It comes after Trump told reporters Monday that Bolton will have broken the law, and will face a “very strong criminal problem” if the book is published.

Reuters contributed to this report.