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Trump administration sues John Bolton to delay release of book

Chuck Cooper, Bolton’s attorney, said his team was “reviewing the government’s complaint and will respond in due course.”

Cooper has said Bolton worked for months with classification specialists to avoid releasing classified material. He has accused the White House of using national security information as a pretext to censor Bolton.

In its lawsuit, the Justice Department administration contends that the former adviser did not complete a pre-publication review to ensure that the manuscript did not contain classified material. It requests that a federal court order Bolton to “instruct or request” that his publisher further delay publication of the book to allow for a completion of the national security review process and to “retrieve and dispose” of existing copies in a manner acceptable to the government.

The Justice Department also is seeking to prevent Bolton from profiting off the book, particularly if he “refuses to complete the prepublication review process and obtain the required prior written authorisation before proceeding with publishing the book.”

In its lawsuit, the Justice Department argues that Bolton’s job meant he “regularly came into possession of some of the most sensitive classified information that exists in the US government.” Officials said Bolton’s manuscript was more than 500 pages and was “rife with classified information, which he proposed to release to the world.”

Bolton’s book, The Room Where It Happened: A White House Memoir, was supposed to be released in March. Its release date was twice delayed and it is now set to be released next week by Simon & Schuster.

“Bolton covers an array of topics – chaos in the White House, sure, but also assessments of major players, the President’s inconsistent, scattershot decision-making process, and his dealings with allies and enemies alike, from China, Russia, Ukraine, North Korea, Iran, the United Kingdom, France, and Germany,” according to the publisher.

“I am hard-pressed to identify any significant Trump decision during my tenure that wasn’t driven by re-election calculations,” Bolton writes in the book, according to a news release from the publisher.

The book has been highly anticipated for months, especially after news broke during Trump’s impeachment trial that the manuscript offered a vivid account of the President’s efforts to freeze military aid to Ukraine until the country assisted with investigations into Trump’s political rival Joe Biden. Those allegations formed the crux of the impeachment case, which ended in February with the President’s acquittal in the Senate.


Cooper did not immediately return an email seeking comment on the lawsuit Tuesday. He has previously said that he sent Bolton’s manuscript to White House classification specialist Ellen Knight in late December and that Knight and Bolton spent nearly four months going through the book multiple times, “often line by line.”

According to the lawsuit, Knight completed her review in late April and determined that the manuscript draft did not contain classified information.

But early the next month, Michael Ellis, the National Security Council’s senior director for intelligence, began an additional review of the manuscript and found classified information in it, the lawsuit says. The review was still ongoing earlier this month when media reports revealed that Bolton intended to move forward with his book.


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