Judge rejects Bolton’s effort to dismiss lawsuit against his book

A federal judge on Thursday rejected John Bolton’s effort to throw out a lawsuit from the Trump administration alleging that the former national security adviser published classified information in his new memoir, violating nondisclosure agreements he signed with the White House.

District Court Judge Royce Lamberth said in a 27-page opinion that the lawsuit will move forward because the administration had sufficiently established a likelihood that Bolton had violated the contracts by bypassing a required prepublication approval for the book.

“The government has the power to prevent harm to the national security,” wrote Lamberth, who was appointed to the federal court in D.C. by former President Reagan. “While the government may not prevent Bolton from publishing unclassified materials, it may require him to undergo a reasonable prepublication review process.”

His lawyers have alleged that the administration improperly tried to use the review process to have the book suppressed until after the election because it portrays the president in an unflattering light.

Chuck Cooper, Bolton’s attorney, responded to Thursday’s decision with a statement but did not indicate whether his client plans to appeal.

“The Court’s decision, which we are still studying, means that the case will now move forward to the phase in which the parties will develop and present their evidence to the Court,” Cooper said.

The former National Security Council official tasked with reviewing the book, Ellen Knight, worked with Bolton and his lawyers for months to edit any sensitive information out of the manuscript he had submitted. According to court documents, Knight eventually told Bolton in April that she was satisfied that there was no longer any classified information in his book and to await a letter clearing it for publication.

That letter never arrived, and the government later revealed that a more senior National Security Council official with no prepublication review experience had launched a second assessment of the book.

Knight told the court through an attorney last month that senior White House officials took an “unprecedented” interest in the review process for Bolton’s book and suggested that she faced retaliation for refusing to sign a sworn declaration supporting the lawsuit.

The Department of Justice filed its civil suit in June, shortly before the book was set to go on sale. Lamberth rejected the administration’s effort to obtain a restraining order against the publication, saying that it was too late and that the book was already widely available.

Still, Lamberth noted his concerns with Bolton’s decision to move forward with the publication without express written permission from national security officials.

“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,” Lamberth wrote in a June decision.

Updated at 2:26 p.m.

Tags book Classified information John Bolton memoir National Security Adviser National Security Council

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