The Lawfare Podcast: John Bolton’s Book is Out of the Barn

Jen Patja Howell, Quinta Jurecic, Benjamin Wittes, Jack Goldsmith, Marty Lederman
Monday, June 22, 2020, 12:00 PM

Published by The Lawfare Institute
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Former National Security Advisor John Bolton's White House memoir, titled “The Room Where it Happened,” has made a lot of waves recently. Not only has Bolton faced criticism for publishing his account of his time in the Trump administration in a book rather than testifying in the president’s impeachment trial, but the Justice Department is now suing Bolton for publishing what it claims is classified information. So what is the government arguing? And, is Bolton’s book any good? On Friday, June 19, Quinta Jurecic discussed it all with Benjamin Wittes, Jack Goldsmith and Marty Lederman.

On Saturday, June 20, the judge in Bolton’s case issued a ruling denying the government’s motion for a temporary restraining order blocking distribution of Bolton’s book. In this ruling, Judge Royce Lamberth of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia declined to block the release of Bolton’s book. Lamberth did say that “Bolton’s unilateral conduct raises grave national security concerns” and wrote that Bolton could face civil and even criminal liability for going ahead with publication without government approval. But the judge ruled that the government had failed to establish that a temporary restraining order or preliminary injunction was appropriate—in large part because “the horse is already out of the barn.” Bolton’s book is due to be published on Tuesday, June 23, and copies have already been shipped to bookstores and reviewers. “For reasons that hardly need to be stated,” Judge Lamberth ruled, “the Court will not order a nationwide seizure and destruction of a political memoir.”

Jen Patja Howell is the editor and producer of The Lawfare Podcast and Rational Security. She currently serves as the Co-Executive Director of Virginia Civics, a nonprofit organization that empowers the next generation of leaders in Virginia by promoting constitutional literacy, critical thinking, and civic engagement. She is the former Deputy Director of the Robert H. Smith Center for the Constitution at James Madison's Montpelier and has been a freelance editor for over 20 years.
Quinta Jurecic is a fellow in Governance Studies at the Brookings Institution and a senior editor at Lawfare. She previously served as Lawfare's managing editor and as an editorial writer for the Washington Post.
Benjamin Wittes is editor in chief of Lawfare and a Senior Fellow in Governance Studies at the Brookings Institution. He is the author of several books.
Jack Goldsmith is the Learned Hand Professor at Harvard Law School, co-founder of Lawfare, and a Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution. Before coming to Harvard, Professor Goldsmith served as Assistant Attorney General, Office of Legal Counsel from 2003-2004, and Special Counsel to the Department of Defense from 2002-2003.
Marty Lederman teaches at the Georgetown University Law Center.

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