Justice Department brings breach-of-contract suit to block Bolton book publication

Trump on Monday had confirmed that a suit was coming

Updated: June 16, 2020 - 6:40pm

The Facts Inside Our Reporter’s Notebook

The Justice Department on Tuesday filed a lawsuit against former National Security Adviser John Bolton to prevent the publication of his book that the suit claims includes classified material.

The breach-of-contract suit was filed in U.S. District Court in Washington.

President Trump had confirmed Monday that his administration planned to file a suit to block the sale of the book.

"He's broken the law," Trump told reporters at the White House. "They'll soon be in court."

Trump said details in the book could include "highly classified information" and suggested that any attempt to publish such a book without it being completely vetted was “highly inappropriate.”

"Maybe he’s not telling the truth," the president also said. "He’s been known not to tell the truth, a lot.”

Attorney General William Barr said there is a process for clearing books written by former officials that White House officials don’t believe Bolton has completed.

“He hasn’t completed the process,” said Barr, who also said such a book being published while the relevant president remains in office is “unprecedented.” 

The Wall Street Journal reported that in an opinion piece last week Bolton attorney Charles Cooper said that Bolton and a National Security Council official reviewed "the nearly 500-page manuscript four times, often line by line," though Bolton never got a letter approving the material for publication.

Cooper said that on June 8 they received a letter from the president's deputy counsel for national security John Eisenberg stating that Bolton's writings included classified material and Bolton would breach nondisclosure agreements by publishing.

The book is set to go on sale next week.

Bolton, who departed the Trump administration last fall over foreign policy disputes with the president, was originally supposed to publish his book, “The Room Where It Happened,” earlier this year, but it was met with delays from the White House as the book went through a standard pre-publication security review for classified information by the National Security Council, according to ABC News.