Soon after the ruling was released, Trump tweeted that Bolton “broke the law by releasing Classified Information (in massive amounts). He must pay a very big price for this, as others have before him. This should never to happen again!!!”
Bolton’s lawyers insisted that Bolton had spent months addressing White House concerns about classified information and that Bolton had been assured in late April by the official he was working with that the manuscript no longer contained any such material. Bolton’s team said the Trump administration’s efforts to block the book were a pretext to censor him for an account that the White House found unfavorable.
The Justice Department sued this past week to block the book’s release and to demand that copies be retrieved. Officials said the book contained classified information and that Bolton had failed to complete a pre-publication review process meant to ensure former government officials do not improperly disclose national security secrets in books they write. The administration submitted written statements from multiple officials attesting to the national security concerns of releasing the book.
The judge did not take issue with those concerns in his 10-page order. But with 200,000 copies of the book already distributed to booksellers across the country, attempting to block its release would be futile, the Lamberth wrote. Major media organisations also obtained the book and published comprehensive accounts about it.
“In taking it upon himself to publish his book without securing final approval from national intelligence authorities, Bolton may indeed have caused the country irreparable harm. But in the Internet age, even a handful of copies in circulation could irrevocably destroy confidentiality,” Lamberth wrote.
Just one individual with a book in hand could publish its contents from a local coffee shop, he said.
“With hundreds of thousands of copies around the globe – many in newsrooms – the damage is done. There is no restoring the status quo,” the judge wrote.