Judge says government’s lawsuit against John Bolton over tell-all book can proceed

A federal judge in the District of Columbia has rejected former national security adviser John Bolton’s request to dismiss the government’s lawsuit complaining his tell-all book about his time in the Trump administration disclosed classified information after it failed to complete its prepublication review. 

Judge Royce Lamberth found that the government proved that the publication of Bolton’s book, “The Room Where it Happened,” improperly “breached his prepublication review and predisclosure consultation obligations” and “his nondisclosure obligations.” The government is seeking the profits Bolton has made from the bestselling book, which painted his former boss, President Trump, in an unflattering light. 

“The government has the power to prevent harm to the national security,” Lamberth wrote. “While the government may not prevent Bolton from publishing unclassified materials, it may require him to undergo a reasonable prepublication review process.”

“We are pleased with the ruling,” Justice Department sppokeswoman Kerri Kupec told CBS News. 

In June, Lambreth had ruled that Bolton could move forward in the publication of his book, which had already been scheduled for release despite the government’s efforts to block it. But in that decision, Lambreth made it clear that he took issue with Bolton’s decision to opt out of the prepublication review process, and had “gambled with the national security of the United States.”

The government first brought the lawsuit in June, alleging that Bolton had become “dissatisfied at the pace of NSC’s review” and “decided to take matters into his own hands” by proceeding with the release of the book before the completion of the pre-publication review process.

The government has asked the court to make a summary judgment in this case, meaning that the court will decide rather than a jury. The Justice Department is also investigating the publication of “The Room Where it Happened,” which was published by Simon & Schuster, a division of ViacomCBS.

In just the first week of its publication, the book sold 780,000 copies.

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