The Court Should Block the Release of John Bolton’s Book Until the Prepublication Review Is Completed

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Tuesday, the Trump administration filed a lawsuit to stop former national security adviser John Bolton from publishing his long-expected memoir. Bolton, long regarded as a “snake-in-the-grass” is expecting substantial profits from information he gained while working next to Trump. 

“I will consider every conversation with me as president highly classified,” Trump said on Monday. “So that would mean that if he wrote a book and if the book gets out, he’s broken the law, and I would think he would have criminal problems. I hope so.” The Justice Department is not attempting to censor any legitimate aspect of the book

Bolton’s lawyer Charles Cooper, Axios.Com reports, said “in a Wall Street Journal op-ed last week that his client had already undergone four months of “perhaps the most extensive and intensive prepublication review in NSC history,” before the White House official who Bolton was coordinating with suddenly stopped responding.

The lawsuit states “The United States is not seeking to censor any legitimate aspect of Defendant’s manuscript; it merely seeks an order requiring Defendant to complete the prepublication review process and to take all steps necessary to ensure that only a manuscript that has been officially authorized through that process—and is thus free of classified information—is disseminated publicly.

The ACLU, a civil liberties organization, said the government will lose the case based on the holdings in New York Times case. The organization stated:  

“Any attempt by the Trump administration to block the publication of John Bolton’s memoir is doomed to fail. A half-century ago, the Supreme Court rejected a similar attempt by the Nixon administration to block the publication of the Pentagon Papers. Since then, it has been firmly established that prior restraints on publication are unconstitutional and un-American. As usual, the government’s threats have nothing to do with safeguarding national security and everything to do with avoiding scandal and embarrassment.”  

The limited remedy the government is seeking is reasonable, given the grave national security issues that are at stake. The publication of the book should be halted until the prepublication review process is completed. 

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