WASHINGTON – A federal judge on Saturday denied a motion by the Justice Department to end the sale and distribution of an upcoming paper by Trump's former national security adviser, John Bolton.
US District Court judge Royce Lamberth wrote that the government's request to block the distribution of "The Room Where it Happened," a damned reminder of Bolton's term in the White House, is impossible to enforce, given that there are already thousands of copies of the book were printed and sent to dealers.
The verdict is a major blow to the White House, which has taken extraordinary steps last week to delete the memoirs that are slated to be released on Tuesday and are already a bestseller.
In addition to his request to ask Lamberth to stop selling the government-submitted book on Wednesday, the Justice Department has also personally sued Bolton for violating confidentiality agreements he signed with the White House.
Trump paints "The Room Where It Happened" as an "amazingly uninformed", astute and mendacious manager who has repeatedly signaled his willingness to sell the nation's security interests if that meant promoting his own interests.
However, Saturday's decision was anything but an overall win for Bolton. In several places in his order, Lamberth suggested that Bolton had probably violated his employment contract and that the government would likely prevail in his lawsuit against Bolton.
"This was Bolton's bet," wrote Lamberth. "If he is right and the book does not contain any classified information, he keeps the (profits and advertising for the book); but if he is wrong, he can lose his profits from the book business and be exposed to criminal liability and endangers the national Security. Bolton was wrong. "
Bolton's lawyer, Charles Cooper, said in a statement, "We welcome today's decision by the court to reject the government's attempt to suppress Ambassador Bolton's book."
"However, we respectfully question the Court's preliminary conclusion at this early stage in the event that Ambassador Bolton has not fully met his contractual obligation to pre-release the government," Cooper continued. "The case will now continue to develop the full protocol on the subject. The full story of these events has yet to be told – but it will be."
Within minutes of Saturday's decision, Trump tweeted new attacks on Bolton.
"Wow, I finally agree with the failed political adviser Steve Schmidt, who described Wacko John Bolton as" a despicable man who failed to fulfill his duty to protect America. "He also said he should never serve in the government again. So true! "Trump wrote.
"Plain and simple, John Bolton, who washed up everyone until I brought him back and gave him a chance, broke the law by publishing classified information (in large quantities). He has to pay a very high price for it, like others did it before him. That should never happen again !!! "
The issue of whether Bolton's book contains classified information is at the heart of an ongoing litigation between Bolton and the White House.
And although Lamberth did not directly decide on this issue on Saturday, he has made little effort to hide the fact that he agrees with the government's claim that it actually contains classified material.
Bolton and his lawyers have flatly denied that the book contains classified information, and point to a month-long pre-publication review process that Bolton underwent with the National Security Council and which, at the request of the NPC, has led to several changes to the book. After the changes, the main critic of the book emailed Bolton in late April that the book did not appear to contain any other classified information.
However, according to the Department of Justice, a second, unannounced review of the book was initiated after the completion of this first review process, and this second review revealed more classified information that was missed during the first review.
When the White House informed Bolton in June that the second review had revealed more classified information, it was too late. Bolton had already instructed his publisher to print the book and distribute it worldwide.
On his government Saturday, Lamberth repeatedly accused Bolton of not waiting for final government approval before telling his publisher to continue printing the book.
The judge also said that after personally reviewing the material in Bolton's book that the government's claims are classified, Lamberth agreed with the Department of Justice: Bolton's memoirs reveal classified information.
For Saturday's order, however, Lamberth put aside this question of whether the book contains classified information.
Instead, he raised the question of whether a last-minute court order blocking the book was an appropriate way to prevent this information from being published.
And one of the things the government had to prove to convince him to issue such an order, Lamberth wrote, was that it would actually work.
Since the book is already available in thousands of bookstores, distributed to reviewers and journalists, and bought online by thousands of people, a judicial order that blocks it would not keep the classified material under lock and key, the judge wrote.
Below is a photo of "The Room Where It Happened" taken at the White House earlier this week. Many journalists there received advance copies of the memoirs from the publisher.
"While Bolton's unilateral behavior raises serious concerns about national security, the government has not shown that an injunction is an appropriate means," Lamberth wrote.
"The defendant Bolton has played with the national security of the United States. He has harmed his country and made himself civil (and possibly criminal). However, these facts do not control the application to the Court of Justice. The government has not determined this . " that an injunction prevents irreparable harm. Your application will be rejected accordingly. "
Given that the book is due to be released on Tuesday, the government is unlikely to appeal this ruling.
The editor of Bolton, Simon & Schuster, said in a statement: "We are grateful that the Court of Justice has confirmed the strict protection of the first change against censorship and prior restriction of publication. We are delighted that the public now has the opportunity will read Ambassador Bolton's report of his time as a National Security Advisor. "
Trump tried to turn his loss into a victory and took up Lamberth's skeptical comments on Bolton's contract, saying the decision was a "BIG COURT WIN against Bolton".
"Since the book has already been published and leaked to many people and the media, the highly respected judge could obviously have done nothing to stop it," Trump tweeted shortly after his first tweets that attacked Bolton.
"BUT there were strong and powerful statements and decisions about MONEY and BREAKING CLASSIFICATION … Bolton was violating the law and was called and reprimanded for it, at a really high price. He likes to drop bombs on people, and to kill her. Now he's going to drop bombs on him! "