Trump’s Justice Department filed a lawsuit Tuesday evening 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 classification review of the book despite being obligated to complete it by contract. For that reason, the Justice Department is asking a judge to order Bolton to notify his publisher to delay publication “insofar as he has the authority to do so.”
But the Justice Department’s lawsuit may prove a hard sell.
Bolton’s publisher, Simon & Schuster, already has the book and is preparing to ship out copies to stores.
In a statement, a spokesman for Simon & Schuster contended that Bolton has complied with the White House National Security Council’s classification review and signaled it plans to move ahead with publication.
“The lawsuit filed … 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,” said the spokesman, Adam Rothberg. “Simon & Schuster fully supports his First Amendment right to tell the story of his time in the White House to the American public.”
Carl Tobias, a federal law professor at Richmond University, said the court is unlikely to block the publisher from releasing the book.
“It has already been shipped and courts are reluctant to impose prior restraint in light of First Amendment,” Tobias told the Daily News. “The only possibility is if Trump can convince a judge that there are serious national security issues at stake with release and that seems unlikely.”
The book, according to a press release, 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.
© 2020 New York Daily News
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.