Bolton's Book Poses National Security 'Concerns,' But Can Publish: Judge

A federal judge denied the Trump administration's request to block publication of former national security adviser John Bolton's book set for release on Tuesday.

Bolton's book can go ahead with its national release next week after U.S. District Court judge Royce Lamberth ruled "the government has not established that an injunction is an appropriate remedy" for potential national security concerns. Previewed segments from Bolton's book appear to paint a damning picture of President Donald Trump's tenure in office, particularly in relation to his foreign policy decisions.

Bolton was ousted from his role as White House national security adviser in September 2019, after clashing with the president over foreign policy issues in Iran, North Korea and Afghanistan. Trump announced Bolton's firing on Twitter at the time, but Bolton argued hours later that he resigned on his own accord. Making light of Bolton's longtime history of warhawk stances, Trump joked that if he'd left Bolton in place the United States would have entered more wars.

As the Washington Post's Spencer Hsu reported, Bolton is not in the clear from potential security investigations in the future. Lamberth said Bolton "likely jeopardized national security" by publishing the secrets of the Trump administration based upon classified information provided by the government in attempting to block publication. The Trump administration attorneys argued Bolton's book contains classified information that could cause "grave" harm to U.S. national security.

But Bolton has argued the White House retroactively classified details in the book using improper methods.

Judge Lamberth of the D.C. District Court also cast doubt on whether he had any power to even stop the publication of the book so late in the process. "The horse, as we used to say in Texas, seems to be out of the barn," he said during a two-hour hearing Friday.

Update: Trump responded to the court ruling by labeling it a victory and accusing Bolton of breaking the law: "BIG COURT WIN against Bolton. Obviously, with the book already given out and leaked to many people and the media, nothing the highly respected Judge could have done about stopping it...BUT, strong & powerful statements & rulings on MONEY & on BREAKING CLASSIFICATION were made..."

Bolton's attorneys said he worked extensively with National Security Council reviewer Ellen Knight to ensure there was no classified material in the manuscript. But Trump administration attorneys on Friday pressed Bolton for why he suddenly ended the book review process and instead pushed straight for publishing. Bolton's attorney said he simply "walked away" from the review process.

Bolton has been widely dragged for refusing to produce this information during Trump's impeachment hearings at the beginning of the year, but is now pushing for publishing ahead of the election. On social media last week, Bolton cited the ACLU on why he should be allowed to move ahead with publishing. The former ambassador and national security adviser has painted this as a freedom of speech issue.

"50 years ago, SCOTUS rejected the Nixon administration's attempt to block the publication of the Pentagon Papers, establishing that government censorship is unconstitutional. Any Trump administration efforts to stop John Bolton's book from being published are doomed to fail."

Donald Trump and John Bolton
President Donald Trump speaks to members of the media as National Security Adviser John Bolton listens during a meeting in the White House on August 20 in Washington, D.C. Alex Wong/Getty