Former U.S. national security adviser John Bolton has asked a federal court to delay a decision on a Department of Justice motion for Summary Judgment and to order discovery, claiming that the evidence will show the Trump administration abused the prepublication review system in an attempt to suppress his bestselling book The Room Where it Happened.
“Ambassador Bolton...must be allowed discovery so that he may obtain and present information showing that the Government’s actions in reviewing his manuscript were undertaken in bad faith, as part of a deliberate effort to suppress the publication of his book for purely political purposes,” reads an August 20 supporting memorandum filed by Bolton’s attorneys. Bolton attorneys add that, should the case against Bolton be allowed to proceed, the author will argue that any contractual duties Bolton may have had under his NDAs were rendered moot by the Trump administration’s “bad-faith abuse of the review process.”
Currently, the court is considering competing motions from the parties. On July 16, Bolton asked the court to dismiss the Department of Justice's remaining civil case against him, arguing that he has not breached his nondisclosure agreements, and that after a four-month review process, Ellen Knight, the NSC’s senior director for Records, Access, and Information Security Management verbally affirmed that Bolton’s manuscript was cleared of any classified material.
But earlier this month, the DOJ filed a motion for summary judgment, seeking to seize Bolton's royalties—including his reported $2 million advance—citing the author's nondisclosure agreements.
"As the Supreme Court has explicitly held, the proper remedy for a violation of a person’s contractual agreements to undertake prepublication review is the imposition of a constructive trust on all proceeds of his book," reads a July 30 brief in support of the government's motion for summary Jjudgment against Bolton, "including amounts Defendant may already have received (which he should be required to disgorge) and any and all amounts he may receive in the future as royalties or otherwise."
In this week’s filings, attorneys for Bolton said the the evidence would show that Knight “did not provide Ambassador Bolton with the pro-forma written letter memorializing her conclusion that the manuscript, as revised, contained no classified information because she was instructed not to do so by President Trump or White House assistants acting at his direction and/or on his behalf.”
On June 20, federal judge Royce Lamberth denied the DOJ's emergency application for an order blocking publication of Bolton's book. But in his 10-page opinion and order, Lamberth rebuked Bolton for pushing ahead with publication, rather than seeking redress from the courts.
"Bolton could have sued the government and sought relief in court. Instead, he opted out of the review process before its conclusion,” Lamberth wrote, adding that, based on the incomplete evidence presented at the hearing, he was persuaded that Bolton “likely jeopardized national security by disclosing classified information in violation of his nondisclosure agreement obligations."