Judge slams Bolton for 'gambling with national security’ but declines to block book

The Trump administration had sued to halt it, claiming it contained classified information

Updated: June 20, 2020 - 11:30am

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A federal judge on Saturday declined to block the publication of former national security adviser John Bolton's tell-all book about the Trump White House, dealing a blow to the Trump administration's efforts to halt what they claimed was a book full of classified information. 

U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth in a decision issued Saturday declared that the government "failed to establish that an injunction will prevent irreparable harm," noting that the book was already in widespread circulation even prior to formal publication.  

But Lamberth also slammed Bolton for "gambl[ing] with the national security of the United States" and "expos[ing] his country to harm" by ordering the publication of the book "without written authorization and without notice to the government."

Bolton's lawyers had argued yesterday that their client was "powerless" to stop the book's dissemination throughout media and society. Copies of the manuscript have already been delivered to journalists, book reviewers and other media outlets around the country. 

Lamberth in his ruling agreed, writing that "by the looks of it, the horse is not just out of the barn—it is out of the country."

Though he argued that an injunction was an "untimely solution" given the circumstances, Lamberth nevertheless said Bolton had engaged in "substantial risk exposure" by going outside the normal pathways for security clearance of the book's manuscript. 

Bolton "stands to lose his profits from the book deal, exposes himself to criminal liability, and imperils national security" if the government is correct about the book's contents, Lamberth wrote.