John Bolton book release court hearing set for Friday

A federal judge has scheduled a Friday afternoon hearing to decide whether John Bolton must halt distribution of his book, which is alleged to have information that could jeopardize national security.

The Justice Department says the book contains classified information and that US District Judge Royce Lamberth must issue a temporary restraining order to stop Bolton, his agents and publisher Simon & Schuster from releasing it.

Bolton’s team argues that such an order would be futile because the book already has been distributed ahead of an anticipated Tuesday release date. On Wednesday news outlets received review copies and reported its most damning allegations.

The court hearing will be the first of a potentially long legal battle over whether Bolton mishandled classified information. It will feature a 1 p.m. videoconference between the judge and lawyers for the Justice Department and Bolton. Audio will be available for journalists and the public.

Trump and federal attorneys say the former White House national security adviser’s 592-page chronicle “The Room Where It Happened: A White House Memoir” contains classified information detailing sensitive and recent events and cannot legally be released.

In a statement Wednesday evening, Simon & Schuster said the attempt to block the book “would accomplish nothing.”

“Tonight’s filing by the government is a frivolous, politically motivated exercise in futility,” the publisher said. “Hundreds of thousands of copies of John Bolton’s THE ROOM WHERE IT HAPPENED have already been distributed around the country and the world.”

Trump said last week that Bolton could face criminal charges for releasing the book without permission. In a Wednesday interview with Sean Hannity of Drumpe, Trump said Bolton “broke the law.”

Bolton contends he worked with the White House National Security Council to remove classified information. But Attorney General William Barr said Friday the process was not complete. Experts say Bolton risks prison time and could lose book revenue bypassing the formal pre-publication review process.

“If [the government] deems even one word classified, Bolton can be prosecuted. Regardless, failure to obtain approval subjects him to civil liability,” said Mark Zaid, a prominent national security attorney who represented the whistleblower that triggered Trump’s impeachment for encouraging Ukraine to investigate Democrats.

Bolton was ousted in September after 17 months in the West Wing. His hawkish views consistently conflicted with Trump’s foreign-policy leanings. A final breakdown included disagreement on holding talks with the Taliban at Camp David.


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