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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.”