A federal judge has ruled that the Trump administration cannot block the publication of former national security adviser John Bolton's new book. President Donald Trump and his administration have been speaking out against Bolton in the lead-up to his new tell-all The Room Where it Happened. Still, DC District Court Judge Royce Lamberth announced on Saturday that the White House could not prevent the book from being published, according to a report by CNN. One big reason is that advance copies of the book have already been distributed to early reviewers.
"For reasons that hardly need to be stated, the Court will not order a nationwide seizure and destruction of a political memoir," Lamberth wrote in part of his 10-page decision on Saturday. The judge seemed to think that the memoir would likely circulate online even if it was pulled from store shelves. Moreover, the Trump administration's attempt to prevent this book from being published has been called a breach of Bolton's First Amendment rights. However, Lamberth did not provide Bolton from any protection against criminal liability, nor from having the profits of his book seized.
"He opted out of the review process before its conclusion. Unilateral fast-tracking carried the benefit of publicity and sales, and the cost of substantial risk exposure. This was Bolton's bet: If he is right and the book does not contain classified information, he keeps the upside mentioned above; but if he is wrong, he stands to lose his profits from the book deal, exposes himself to criminal liability, and imperils national security," Lamberth wrote. "Bolton was wrong."
The White House has argued that Bolton's book needs to be kept from publication because it contains sensitive national security information, possibly hinting that it violates non-disclosure agreements. However, critics argue that the administration is really trying to squash the book because it could hurt the president's chances of re-election. The fact that the case was taken to court at all was seen by some as a loss for Constitutional rights.
While Lamberth was not kind to Bolton in his decision, he did dispel the major concerns brought up by the Trump administration — particularly the outcry over national security risks. He wrote: "Upon reviewing the classified materials, as well as the declarations filed on the public docket, the Court is persuaded that Defendant Bolton likely jeopardized national security by disclosing classified information in violation of his nondisclosure agreement obligations." Bolton's book, The Room Where it Happened, will be released on Tuesday in digital, print and audio formats. It is available for pre-order from many retailers now.