As the controversy revolves around former national security adviser John Bolton about his time in the Trump White House, President Trump has repeatedly warned that Bolton could face criminal charges for the book, and others have mentioned that he could end up losing the profits. . .
Questions about what kind of legal backlash Bolton might face over his alleged decision to withdraw from the pre-publication review process of the book, titled “The Room Where It Happened: A Memory from the White House,” come after a judge The federal government ruled last week that the launch could go ahead. Trump reacted to that order in an interview with Fox News on Saturday night.
“The judge essentially said he was guilty,” said Trump. “And also, much more importantly, classified information; he should go to jail for that for many, many years. I don’t know what’s going to happen. And he depends on the Department of Justice. But I can tell you that they ‘are not happy.”
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The president continued Tuesday against his former national security adviser.
“But what he did was take classified information and publish it during the presidency,” Trump said in an interview with Brian Kilmeade. “… And I think he’s a criminal. And I think, frankly, that he should go to jail for that.”
“Creepster John Bolton is a poor man who should be in jail, with money seized, for spreading highly classified information for profit,” Trump said Tuesday in a tweet. “Remember what they did to the young submarine sailor, but he did nothing to Crooked Hillary. I ended up forgiving him. It wasn’t fair!”
There have been cases in the past of people writing books about their time working on jobs with access to highly classified information and making a profit.
Former Navy SEAL Matt Bissonnette lost $ 6.6 million in 2016 for violating confidentiality agreements and failing to get his book approved by the government after he published the story about his role in the raid that killed Usama bin Laden. Those are similar to the charges Bolton faces.
And in the 1980 case of the Supreme Court Snepp v. In the United States, the Supreme Court ruled that a former CIA employee could be denied the proceeds of a book he wrote without obtaining government approval.
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In his ruling allowing Bolton’s book to be released to readers across the country this week, a DC District Court judge cited the fact that copies had already been printed and distributed to booksellers.
“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,” said the order of Judge Royce Lamberth.
But despite that, could Bolton face a backlash, including criminal charges or seizure of any gain he makes? Lamberth seemed to believe that Bolton, like others before him, could expose himself to civil and criminal risks.
“Bolton could have sued the government and sought relief in court. Instead, he chose to exit the review process before its conclusion,” Lamberth wrote.
‘This was Bolton’s bet: if he is right and the book does not contain classified information, he maintains the advantage mentioned above; But if you make a mistake, you can lose your book profits, expose yourself to criminal liability, and jeopardize national security.
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The judge continued: “The unilateral fast track carried the benefit of advertising and sales, and the cost of substantial risk exposure. This was Bolton’s wager: if he is right and the book does not contain classified information, he maintains the advantage. Mentioned above, but if you’re wrong, you can lose your profits from the book deal, expose yourself to criminal liability, and jeopardize national security. Bolton was wrong. “
Lamberth said the government had convinced him that Bolton’s book contained classified information at a sealed hearing. The judge wrote: “The Court is persuaded that Defendant Bolton likely jeopardized national security by revealing information classified in violation of his confidentiality agreement obligations.”
Other external voices seem to agree with Lamberth.
Walter Olson, a member of the Robert A. Levy Center for Constitutional Studies at the Libertarian Cato Institute, told Fox News that, despite the emphasis placed on freedom of expression in the United States, a person in Bolton’s situation, having Signed confidentiality agreements and having been trusted with classified information on condition that you do not disclose it, you are subject to legal limits on what you can say.
“The terms of that deal are not very favorable for Bolton,” Olson said, referring to the types of contracts one must sign to access the highly classified information that a national security adviser needs to do the job.
“This case can be taught in media law courses because it points out the differences in the things that are accepted,” he said, specifically referring to how contracts can limit speech.
THE JUDGE ALLOWS THE BOLTON BOOK TO BE RELEASED, HITS HIM FOR HAVING NATIONAL SECURITY “GAME”
Olson added that under the rules Bolton is subject to when it comes to disclosing information about his time working for the Trump administration, he may run into legal trouble even if the information he posts is not classified.
“Not only do you have to be right” that your book does not include any national security secrets, “but there can be no uncertainty in your mind,” Olson said. “Bolton has to convince the judge not only of some details that were not classified, but also that Bolton was not reasonably insecure about it.”
Bolton, in court documents, has argued that at all times he has been certain that his manuscript did not include any classified material.
Fox News chief analyst judge Andrew Napolitano, on “Fox & Friends” Tuesday morning, said the Justice Department (DOJ) would have to decide how far it wants to take any action against Bolton.
“I don’t know what the secrets are in this book and the judge didn’t know what the secrets are in the book until they entered the chambers with John Bolton’s attorney and the Justice Department attorneys and the judge. And the press was not ” there and pointed out what the national security secrets are, “he said.
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“Then, at some point, we will see how serious and damaging it is,” Napolitano continued. “If it’s serious and damaging, the president is right. The Justice Department can go after John. They can get a judge to order Simon & Schuster, its publisher, to preserve all the proceeds from the sale of the book and the Justice Department you can try to take advantage of that. You can also try to persuade a grand jury that this was a criminal act. So the president is right. “
Geroge Washington University law professor Jonathan Turley wrote in an opinion piece for The Hill that criminal prosecution as discussed by Trump, who has a long history of exaggeration, could be exaggerated, but Bolton may lose. your book. product.
“While waiting for Bolton to run, the Justice Department gave him enough rope to hang himself,” he said. “Given prior notice of classified content, it could lead to criminal prosecution under the Espionage Act, although such prosecutions are rare and difficult. The primary objective would be profit.”
But Bolton and Simon & Schuster tell a different story: They say there is no classified information in the book, and point to the fact that the book apparently received initial approval before the government changed its mind.
“In the months prior to the publication of The room where it happenedBolton worked cooperatively with the National Security Council to incorporate changes to the text that address NSC’s concerns, “said a statement from the editor on June 10.” The final, published version of this book reflects those changes, and Simon & Schuster fully supports Ambassador Bolton’s First Amendment right to tell the story of his time at the Trump White House. “
In addition, court documents filed by Bolton’s attorneys argue that National Security Council official Ellen Knight said April 27 that she intended to approve her manuscript. But, they say, when Knight’s official approval didn’t go down. “[i]It soon became clear that the White House had no intention of allowing Ms. Knight to issue the letter of authorization, but was trying to run out of time before the election simply by refusing to respond to Ambassador Bolton’s requests. “
Bolton’s team argues that despite Knight’s approval, Deputy Assistant to President Michael Ellis returned “extensive and comprehensive” redactions to Bolton’s book that “erased numerous passages that portray President Trump in an unflattering manner.”
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Despite Bolton’s claims, Olson says he will face an uphill climb if the government decides to bring him to court, even after a favorable ruling last week.
“First Amendment law is more hostile to prior restraint than to post-fact liability,” Olson said.
“People who take these kinds of government jobs sign agreements that are onerous for them if they want to talk about these things later and that are beneficial to the government,” he said. “That puts it in a box.”
John Roberts, Brian Kilmeade and The Associated Press of Fox News contributed to this report.