Federal District Court Judge Royce Lamberth has cleared the way for John Bolton to be criminally prosecuted for violating his non-disclosure agreement and revealing classified material without authorization. In a 10-page ruling issued June 20, the former presiding judge of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act Court (FISA Court) refused to grant the Trump White House a temporary restraining order and injunction against the publication of Bolton's account of his 17 months as National Security Advisor. The book, The Room Where it Happened, is being released this week by Simon & Schuster.
Judge Lamberth found that "the barn door has already been opened" by Bolton giving the publisher the go-ahead to produce and distribute thousands of copies of the book, including pre-publication review copies to scores of mainstream media around the world. Lamberth concluded that the government request for the TRO would be "toothless" given the wide circulation and the impossibility of preventing extensive quotes from the book appearing on social media.
But Lamberth agreed with the Trump Administration that Bolton had included classified information in the final book and he could be sued in civil court and criminally prosecuted for violating his signed agreements to protect classified material. The White House submitted in camera evidence to the Judge detailing classified material damaging to the national security of the United States. The Judge agreed.
In his written ruling, Lamberth wrote: "Defendant Bolton has gambled with the national security of the United States. He has exposed his country to harm and himself to civil (and potentially criminal) liability."
In other words: Go get him boys.
Bolton was fired by Trump in September 2019. He signed a contract with Simon & Schuster in November 2019 and submitted a 500-page manuscript in December 2019. Bolton provided a copy to the National Security Council for classification review, but he gave the publisher the OK to go to print without receiving written clearance from the White House.
Anyone who has ever written a 500-page manuscript knows that it cannot be completed in a matter of weeks or even months–particularly a memoir which involves intricate details of national security deliberations. It seems clear to me that Bolton was working on his book even before he was fired–and well before he had the contract with the major publisher.
Bolton was in regular communication with Ellen Knight, Senior Director of Records Access and Information Security Management, for the National Security Council. He was told in April 2020 that he should receive a letter authorizing the publication of his book after the redactions had been made. But the letter was never released, due to other officials' concerns about remaining classified material. He went ahead with publication knowing full well he had not been given the required authorization. He should be prosecuted for that willful crime.