The Department of Justice on Tuesday asked a federal judge to block the publication of former national security adviser John Bolton’s upcoming book discussing his time in the White House.
The lawsuit calls for the judge to prevent Bolton from “compromising national security” by publishing the 500-page manuscript the government described as “rife with classified information,” stating his plan to release the book is a breach of his employment agreement with the White House.
“The United States seeks an order requiring defendant to abide by his contractual and fiduciary duties to complete the prepublication review process and not disclose classified information without written authorization, thereby protecting the national security of the United States,” the suit states.
The suit cites media reports stating that Bolton and his publisher plan to release his book In the Room Where It Happened: A White House Memoir on June 23, even though the review process has not been completed.
“Simply put, defendant struck a bargain with the United States as a condition of his employment in one of the most sensitive and important national security positions in the United States government and now wants to renege on that bargain by unilaterally deciding that the pre-publication review process is complete and deciding for himself whether classified information should be made public,” the suit says.
Bolton served as national security adviser in Trump’s White House from April 2018 until September 2019 and later announced a deal for a book discussing his time in the Trump administration
The White House sent a letter to Bolton’s lawyer in January saying a preliminary review of his book found it contained “significant amounts of classified information,” including some at the top-secret level, which was required to be removed before publishing.
In the following days, The New York Times and The Washington Post published articles detailing the book’s contents.
After the White House warning, Bolton submitted the book for review by Ellen Knight, senior director for records access and information security management at the National Security Council. On April 27, she made the judgment that the revised version of the manuscript did not contain classified information, the suit states.
However, on May 2, the NSC’s director for intelligence, Michael Ellis, began an additional review at the request of Robert O’Brien, who succeeded Bolton as national security adviser.
The suit states that O’Brien was “concerned that the manuscript still appeared to contain classified information, in part because the same administration the author served is still in office and the manuscript described sensitive information about ongoing foreign policy issues.”
Ellis completed his initial review on June 9 and the legal adviser to the NSC sent a letter to Bolton’s lawyer stating that “the manuscript still contains classified information, because, among other things, it includes information that he himself classified and designated for declassification only after the lapse of 25 years.”
The suit states that publication of the book including the information cited in Ellis’ review would violate the terms of Bolton’s non-disclosure agreements.
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