Federal judge Royce Lamberth this week denied former national security adviser John Bolton’s motion to dismiss the government's case against him, finding that the government has presented sufficient evidence to support its claim that Bolton breached his confidentiality agreements by publishing his bestselling memoir The Room Where It Happened without proper clearance.
The decision was not unexpected. On July 16, Bolton had asked the court to dismiss the DoJ's civil case against him, arguing that he had not breached his nondisclosure agreements. But the DoJ at this stage had only to show that there was a plausible argument that Bolton did violate his obligations, a fairly low bar that Lamberth in a 27-page memorandum and opinion found DoJ attorneys easily cleared.
The ruling sets the stage for a potential trial, and Bolton now has 14 days to submit his answer to the government's Amended Complaint.
Meanwhile, Lamberth has yet to rule on two competing motions still before the court, including the DoJ's motion for summary judgment in the case. If granted, that motion would effectively decide the case for the government and would enable the government to seize Bolton's royalties. Bolton, on the other hand, has asked the court not to rule on the DoJ's motion for summary judgment but to instead order discovery in the case, arguing that the evidence would show that the government in fact breached its own agreements through a “bad-faith abuse of the review process.”
Last week, attorneys for Bolton insisted that a bombshell letter filed with the court by the National Security Council official who led the prepublication review of Bolton's book bolstered the author's claims of bad faith. The19-page letter, submitted by attorneys for Ellen Knight, former senior director for records access and information security management at the NSC, alleges that the book was in fact cleared of classified information after an intensive review process—only to be blocked by political appointees, who later unsuccessfully pressured Knight to change her story and eventually removed her from her post.
At last week's hearing, however, Lamberth appeared unmoved by Knight's revelations, suggesting that Knight’s letter was a “political diatribe” that had little bearing on the questions before the court.
In his order this week, Lamberth said he would rule on the pending motions "expeditiously."