Former national security adviser John Bolton and his book publisher Simon & Schuster are making progress with the publication of their White House memoirs on Tuesday, even after a federal judge indicated that the government would likely succeed if it tries to get any money. that Bolton hoped to win and that he could face criminal charges.
President Donald Trump and his aides continue to try to discredit Bolton and the book after the Justice Department failed to get the judge to stop his release over the weekend.
The Justice Department had asked for a court order preventing the Bolton publisher, along with thousands of distributors and bookstores that already owned the book, from publishing it.
But DC District Judge Royce Lamberth ruled he would not stop the publication, even noting that Bolton’s conduct “raises serious national security concerns” and without the White House authorization “has exposed his country to harm and to itself. same to civil liability (and potentially criminal). ”
“For reasons that hardly need to be declared, the Court will not order the confiscation and destruction of a political memory at the national level,” Lamberth said in his ruling. “This was Bolton’s gamble: if he is right and the book does not contain classified information, he maintains the aforementioned advantage; but if he is wrong, he may lose his earnings from the book settlement, expose himself to criminal liability and jeopardize security. Bolton was wrong. “
President Trump turned to Twitter to claim the victory, concentrating on Lamberth’s comments that Bolton may have unlawfully disclosed classified information.
“GREAT COURT CATTLE against Bolton. Obviously, with the book already delivered and leaked to many people and the media, nothing the highly respected judge could have done to stop him … BUT, strong and powerful statements and rulings on MONEY and more A ROTATING CLASSIFICATION was done, “Trump tweeted.
“Bolton broke the law and has been called and reprimanded for doing so, with a really high price to pay. He likes to drop bombs on people and kill them. Now they will drop bombs on him!” added.
Bolton’s lawyer said in a statement to ABC News that they “welcome” the decision overall, but “respectfully respect, however, the Court’s preliminary conclusion at this early stage of the case that Ambassador Bolton did not fully comply with its obligation of contractual pre-publication for the Government, and the case will now proceed to the development of the complete registry on that subject. ”
Probably not the end of Bolton’s legal troubles.
At a minimum, the Justice Department is expected to seek to capitalize on the proceeds from its book, which already comes with a reported $ 2 million settlement, and potentially file criminal charges under the Espionage Act for disclosing classified information, according to a person familiar with with the matter
Meanwhile, Bolton has repeatedly disputed that his book contains classified information after multiple reviews in the course of a month-long review by the National Security Council.
The NSC official in charge of the pre-publication review, Ellen Knight, prior to April 27, 2020, “had completed her review and considered that the draft manuscript did not contain classified information,” according to the lawsuit.
It was months after Michael Ellis, another NSC official, reviewed further, Bolton was informed that the council concluded that there was additional classified information that should be removed from his book, delivering to him a letter last Tuesday identifying six passages.
The government says Bolton acted illegally by continuing the publication before the review was completed. Bolton says he acted trusting Knight’s conclusion that any classified information had been removed.
A spokesman for Simon & Schuster in a statement called the government’s presentation “a frivolous and politically motivated exercise in futility.”
“Hundreds of thousands of copies of John Bolton’s ‘The Room Where It Happened’ have already been distributed across the country and the world. The government-requested injunction would accomplish nothing,” a statement released last week read.
Notably, several excerpts from the book have already hit the Internet, which Lamberth recognized, and the book is the number one seller on Amazon.
In an exclusive interview with ABC News’ chief global affairs correspondent Martha Raddatz, Bolton predicted that Trump’s response to the book would be “volcanic.”
“It is typical of the Trump administration that when faced with criticism, they do not address the substance of the criticism, they attack the person, which I hope and do not surprise me,” he said.
President Trump called Bolton “wacko” and “liar,” among other names, before the book’s official release on Tuesday, June 23, in which Bolton calls the president “incredibly uninformed.”
Raddatz directly asked Bolton in the interview if he feared being prosecuted.
“I am very confident after spending four months of pre-post, line-by-line review, that there is no classified information in the book,” Bolton said.
Bolton called Trump’s attacks on him “unfit for the office of president.”
“The president is not concerned with foreign governments reading this book,” Bolton said. “He is concerned that Americans are reading this book.”
In another interview with ABC News chief anchorman George Stephanopoulos on Monday, Bolton declined to say whether he would now testify if he is subpoenaed by Congress and instead turned attention to the November presidential election.
“The main way we control presidents is not through impeachment,” Bolton argued. “It is through elections, and presidential behavior can be reckless, reprehensible, dangerous.”
Alexander Mallin, Katherine Faulders and Conor Finnegan of ABC News contributed to this report.