In a swift escalation, the Department of Justice filed an emergency motion in federal court on Wednesday seeking a temporary restraining order to block publication of former national security adviser John Bolton's memoir The Room Where It Happened. The motion comes a day after the DoJ filed a civil suit against Bolton and just as news reports detailing some of the book's explosive revelations began circulating in the media.
"The United States will be irreparably injured absent preliminary relief," the DoJ brief states, claiming the court should grant an injunction barring publication because the book contains information that "reasonably could be expected to cause serious damage, or exceptionally grave damage," to U.S. national security. "To ensure that the injunction cannot be circumvented," the brief continues, "the injunction should also prohibit the Defendant from proceeding with the publication of his book in any form or media; require Defendant to notify his publisher that the book contains classified information that he was not authorized to disclose; instruct his publisher to delay the release date of the book; and to instruct his publisher to take any and all available steps to retrieve and destroy any copies of the book that may be in the possession of any third party."
DoJ officials requested an emergency hearing for Friday morning, June 19, pointing to Bolton's impending June 23 publication date. Also ramping up the drama, and the publicity for Bolton's book, was a piece in the Los Angeles Times on Wednesday, which reported that the Department of Justice is mulling criminal charges against Bolton.
In a statement, Bolton's publisher Simon & Schuster blasted the DoJ's motion. "Tonight’s filing by the government is a frivolous, politically motivated exercise in futility," reads the S&S statement. "Hundreds of thousands of copies of John Bolton’s The Room Where It Happened have already been distributed around the country and the world. The injunction as requested by the government would accomplish nothing."