Judge rules John Bolton can publish book after Trump attempted to halt release

20 June 2020, 16:04 | Updated: 20 June 2020, 17:48

Donald Trump has tweeted that the author - his former aide John Bolton - must "pay a very big price" for revealing what he claims is "classified information"
Donald Trump has tweeted that the author - his former aide John Bolton - must "pay a very big price" for revealing what he claims is "classified information". Picture: PA
EJ Ward

By EJ Ward

A judge in the US has denied Donald Trump's attempts to halt publication of his former security adviser John Bolton's tell-all book about his time in the administration.

The Trump administration had attempted to halt publication of the book after the Department of Justice claimed it had not been properly vetted by officials.

In a 10-page court document, US District Court Judge Royce Lamberth criticised the former Trump adviser, claiming Mr Bolton's conduct had raised "grave national security concerns", an injunction was not an "appropriate remedy" at this point given its already-wide circulation and discussion in the media.

“Defendant Bolton has gambled with the national security of the United States. 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."

Among several allegations, Mr Bolton wrote that Mr Trump had "pleaded" for help from China to win re-election.

Donald Trump has tweeted that the author - his former aide John Bolton - must "pay a very big price" for revealing what he claims is "classified information".

Mr Bolton's lawyers insisted that he had spent months addressing White House concerns about classified information and that Mr Bolton had been assured in late April by the official he was working with that the manuscript no longer contained any such material.

Mr Bolton's team said the Trump administration's efforts to block the book were a pretext to censor him for an account that the White House found unfavourable.

The Justice Department sued in the past week to block the book's release and to demand that copies be retrieved.

Officials said the book contained classified information and that Mr Bolton had failed to complete a pre-publication review process meant to ensure former government officials do not improperly disclose national security secrets in books they write.

The administration submitted written statements from multiple officials attesting to the national security concerns of releasing the book.

The judge did not take issue with those concerns in his 10-page order.

But with 200,000 copies of the book already distributed to booksellers across the country, attempting to block its release would be futile, Judge Lamberth wrote.

Major media organisations also obtained the book and published comprehensive accounts about it.

"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 wrote.

Just one individual with a book in hand could publish its contents from a local coffee shop, he said.

"With hundreds of thousands of copies around the globe - many in newsrooms - the damage is done. There is no restoring the status quo," the judge wrote.

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