John Bolton

The Justice Department Is Trying To Stop the Publication of John Bolton's White House Tell-All

They’re not likely to succeed, but the real goal is to seize any money he makes.


The Justice Department is suing to try to block John Bolton, former national security adviser, from releasing his White House tell-all The Room Where It Happened.

It's extremely unlikely they'll stop the book's release, which is slated for next week, but what they're really going after is the money Bolton will make off of it.

The Room Where It Happened purports to document the inner operations of President Donald Trump's White House from spring 2018 to fall 2019, when Bolton served. The Amazon summary of the book says Bolton saw a president who cared only about getting reelected regardless of whatever impact it had on national security. He argues that the dealings with Ukraine (trying to make government officials dig up dirt on former Vice President Joe Biden) that led to Trump's failed impeachment were not isolated: "Trump's Ukraine-like transgressions existed across the full range of his foreign policy—and Bolton documents exactly what those were, and attempts by him and others in the Administration to raise alarms about them."

The summary is also full of Boltonesque whining that Trump's foreign policy was all about making friends with foreign leaders and not nearly enough saber rattling, so we can fully expect his criticism of Trump to partly revolve around Bolton not getting the harshly punitive or even militaristic responses to conflicts with countries like North Korea or Iran that he wants.

But that's not really what's at issue here. Because of Bolton's role in government, there's a lengthy review process that requires that the book's contents be scrutinized before publication so as not to reveal classified information. This is part of a binding agreement that all federal employees with high-level access to secret information have to sign. Violate the agreement and the feds have the power to take former employees to court to demand all the profits the book makes.

According to the lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, Bolton submitted the book to National Security Council (NSC) staff for the review process in December 2019. Bolton was told in January that the book contained significant amounts of classified information that would have to be deleted before publication. Nevertheless, publisher Simon & Schuster began advertising the book's pending release in January and a New York Times story that month discussed the contents of the manuscript, even though it had not passed review. According to the lawsuit, Bolton was already violating his non-disclosure agreement with the federal government by discussing what was in the book with others.

The NSC allegedly completed the review of the book in April and determined that, though he had excised confidential information, the book was not yet cleared to publish. Bolton was told the process for approval was ongoing. Then, a second review of the book was ordered in May at the urging of Trump's assistant for National Security Affairs. (The lawsuit claims these higher-ups had greater access to top-level intelligence reports and would be better able to recognize confidential information in Bolton's book.)

Bolton and Simon & Schuster pushed forward anyway after completing the initial review and have scheduled the book's general release for June 23.

The lawsuit is attempting to force Bolton to yank the book until he completes the review process and asking Simon & Schuster to delay the release and retrieve any copies currently in the hands of third parties. Failing that, the Justice Department wants to force Bolton to fork over any money he may derive from the publication of the book (including movie rights).

While this all looks like a high-profile feud between Trump and Bolton, the reality is that Bolton is far from alone in his fight to disclose what happens in high levels of government, nor is such a struggle confined to the Trump administration. The Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University, partnering with the American Civil Liberties Union, filed suit in 2019 challenging the constitutionality of prepublication review, representing five former government employees.

Their lawsuit argues that the review process violates both the First and Fifth Amendments for censoring the authors via a vague and inscrutable system that takes months or even a year to complete. They argue the reviews often result in overly broad demands for content to be deleted, without any real analysis of whether disclosure of such information would actually cause harm to the nation's security or any determination of whether the classified information had already been made public. They also argue the censorship orders are sometimes biased based on the content: Books that criticize the CIA's torture of prisoners have historically been more heavily redacted than books that praise the CIA's methods.

Their lawsuit in the U.S. District Court of Maryland was dismissed in April when the court agreed with the government that the prepublication system is constitutional. The Knight First Amendment Institute is appealing.

It's ironic that Bolton may end up in the same boat as whistleblower Edward Snowden. Bolton accused Snowden of treason for revealing the government's secret surveillance of American citizens and declared in 2013 that Snowden's disclosures were a "grave threat to national security."

Last year, when Snowden published Permanent Record, which detailed his decision to reveal the National Security Agency's surveillance, the Justice Department did the same thing to him that they're trying to do to Bolton (and they succeeded—a federal judge gave the feds permission to seize Snowden's proceeds for the book because he did not complete the prepublication review process).

Read the lawsuit against Bolton here.

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  1. This is it… we got him. The walls are closing in.

    1. Seriously. If Bolton had anything we didn’t know already we would have seen the impeachment articles already. I honestly think most of this is bullshit from both sides so he can trump up controversy sell a book like every fucking former cabinet member of Trumps whitehouse hasn’t done this exact thing. It’s so tired at this point.

      1. The US has the distinction of having the worst response in the world to the virus apocalypse based purely on Trump’s incredible insanity and incompetence. Any gains he profited from in the economy are gone and will only deteriorate further due to this insanity. We were already a laughingstock for obvious reasons. What more does he have to do before he becomes a failure?

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        2. The US has the distinction of having the worst response in the world to the virus apocalypse

          Oh lol, here’s classic Tony.

          1. If The Hag had been president and done the exact same things, Tony would be praising her decisive actions.

        3. Tony, that’s clearly false. There’s Brazil.

        4. Trump dictated New York policy?

          1. You want to check where the cases are surging now and amend your premise?

            1. Ah Trump’s running Brazil.

              1. You people are so full of shit.

                1. At least we don’t have ours packed.

    2. I’m sure Bolton has a lot of interesting things to say. It’s too bad he has no credibility whatsoever and has been wrong on just about every issue he’s cared to issue an opinion on.

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    3. How about all those unaccounted for trillions from the coronavirus bailouts? Where the fuck did that money go? Trump fired all the watchdogs and won’t reveal where the money went. Is this the biggest heist in the history of the world?

      1. Find out from watching msnbc.

        1. Sad. You have no fig leaf, once again. Lack of accountability is fine, as long as it is your team in charge.

          1. Your pal Chipper just lied, and you’re accusing Jesse of having no fig leaf?

          2. Pedo Jeffy, go back to moderating your NAMBLA chat room.

    4. Bolton is the new media hero of the left… until the next neoconservative says something against trump.

      While cares theyve called him wrong and a liar for 30 years.

  2. Can you really trust what a known liar and warmonger says about anything?

    1. But enough about Trump

      1. And of course Chipper is now plumping for Bolton.

        1. Yeah, because your pea brain only has room for two categories, you think it means that’s how other people think as well.

          1. Admit it Chipper, you wanted a mustache ride the moment you heard he got canned for scrapping with Trump.

            1. Says the dude who carries water every damn day for a fat, draft dodging, goldbricking trust fund baby.

              1. Schumer isn’t that fat, and I’ve never carried water for him.

          2. Credit where it’s due, Trump is no where near as hawkish as Bolton. Let’s be honest here- he’s the first president since Gerald Ford to not increase the number of military engagements from his predecessor.

            Low bar, but the two aren’t comparable.

  3. It’s ironic that Bolton may end up in the same boat as whistleblower Edward Snowden.

    However, Bolton will probably seek asylum in *Ukraine*.

  4. “a federal judge gave the feds permission to seize Snowden’s proceeds for the book because he did not complete the prepublication review process.”

    Since we’re talking about laws that might make people in power more accountable, here’s an incredibly obvious one. If Snowden and Bolton (second worst human being with a stupid mustache of all time) can’t publish their works apparently disclosing illegal behavior because of NDA’s, why would we not just make NDA’s null and void if they’re covering up criminal behavior? No? People in power are really fond of that one? Ok, nevermind.

    1. What crimes are you claiming happened?

      1. carry that water, little bitch

  5. oooh take that, 2018 T Administration!

  6. A brilliant move by the DOJ. All the publicity will help sell the book, making more money which can be seized. If Trump tears into Bolton at the upcoming political rally I could see the sales spike and the money could be used to significantly reduce the national debt.

  7. Aw he’s treating John Bolton the way he treated his former employees and underage hookers, by throwing nondisclosure agreements at him in an attempt to cover up his own vast incompetence and criminality. So this is how the experiment of running the government like a business turned out. Maybe you guys picked the wrong CEO for that one. At any rate it’s a stress test.

  8. Burning books in advance?

    “Where they have burned books, they will end in burning human beings.” ~ Heinrich Heine

  9. The Wall Street Journal just published an except from Bolton’s book.

    “The president pleaded with Chinese leader Xi Jinping for domestic political help, subordinated national-security issues to his own reelection prospects and ignored Beijing’s human-rights abuses”

    Someone should probably note that John Bolton is a lying sack of shit neocon, and nobody should believe anything he say now any more than they should have believed that yellowcake in Niger or mobile WMD labs were a justification to invade and occupy Iraq.

    1. Tony wants to believe.

      1. Correction: The writers at Reason want to believe. Every single one of them regurgitated the mentally challenged brand of John Bircherism for four years with no reflection on how horrible they are at being “independent thinkers”.

    2. It’s cute how you think Trump has a line that he won’t cross.

      1. He probably wouldn’t have a train run on his ass at the local bath house. Not like you.

    3. He was trustworthy enough for Trump.

      Man it’s so incredibly coincidental how many fine people Trump hires turn out to be lying liars who just want to falsely accuse Trump of various crimes that all basically boil down to placing his own interests before the country’s. What a goddam riddle!

    4. How many times do we need to see the same song man?

      Trump hires guy, guy is the best, guy is top of his field, guy gets cheered by all the zealots (see also mattis, kelly, any military person pre-shitting-on-trump, the mooch, various fox news personalities before they dared question him, big rex, the list goes on). Guy is tops, trump brags on their credentials, they are badass experts that he has picked and appointed because of their amazing skills.

      Guy works with trump for some time, sees massive corruption, resigns due to being tired of dealing with incompetent, ignorant, unwilling to learn child; guy is now the enemy, zealots must be turned on guy. Guy is unqualified, guy is the worst, guy is a disgrace (despite leader recently touting unrivaled credentials of guy, sometimes literally days ago). Zealots follow suit and like lemmings, shout down at disgraced guy.

      You realize this is the shit that works on <70 IQ folks right? This is the fodder for the dumb, uneducated masses. Seems its right at home for at least 38% of the country anyways

      1. Bolton is trash, but the retard appointed him and other like him, touted their credentials, and didnt turn on him until they, like everyone close to him, called him out on his outright corruption and incompetence. Its an ongoing trend

      2. Sweet Appeal to Authority, ShotgunJimbo, but here’s how it actually plays…

        RINOs and eGOP have a guy for Trump, guy is the best, guy is top of his field, guy gets cheered by all the zealots (see also mattis, kelly, any military person pre-shitting-on-trump, the mooch, various fox news personalities before they dared question him, big rex, the list goes on). Guy is tops, they sell Trump on their credentials, they are badass experts with amazing skills.
        Trump bites and brags about the appointment.

        Guy works with Trump for some time, turns out to be just another useless, deep state, sack-of-shit, neo-con who rose up the ranks by playing the game. Tries to push Trump to do the same old warmonger shit that hasn’t worked since the Korean war. Trump balks, guy has hissy fit.
        Other presidents would fold so as not to be embarrassed, Trump just fires their ass and doesn’t give a shit.

  10. So Shackford has gone from “Mueller is like a hero” to “so what if Mueller found nothing, it’s hard to prove this insane conspiracy that is definitely true” to “so what there was a little FBI abuse” to “whatever, you don’t care about FBI abuse” to “well, the FBI did the same thing to Martha Stewart which is exactly like entrapping the incoming national security director” to “here’s a new conspiracy coming from the brave and truthful John Bolton” in the Trump era.

    Well done, neocon!

  11. Don’t overlook the pattern. #CadetBoneSpurs, #DuckingDonald, and #BunkerBoy became hashtags, due to Trump’s recidivist cowardice; and the may be joined by a new one playing off of Trump’s burning of both books and steaks and tax and loan fraud #BooksAndSteaksBothOvercooked.

    Trump’s passion for tyranny and false bravado grow from the same seed, cowardice.

    1. Imagine attacking Trump for not serving in a war as a defense for John Bolton. It’s amazing how many libertarians sound like neocons of the early 2000’s

      1. That many libertarians have a principled opposition to needless war, unlike Trump’s abject and recidivist cowardice, is neither an argument for our condoning either Trump’s cowardice nor Trump’s attempted censorship.

        1. Nor overlooking Trump’s long patterns of both.

        2. You do not have a principled opposition to war if you are defending John Bolton. Drop the act

          1. Go check for Russians under your bed.

          2. Who is defending John Bolton? Re-read the thread.

            1. Don’t defend your sock. It’s embarrassing.

    2. Funny. Progtards, the most tyrannical, yet cowardly pieces of shit in all of time and space calling someone else out for their perceived deficiencies. I am at a point where I look forward to the coming civil war you stupid progs will instigate.

      Your screams of terror and agony will be a beautiful symphony. Given your fates will be well earned.

  12. Free speech for Mr Fake University and anyone praising him. Anyone else not so much.

  13. Bolton is a Pro-War bureaucrat who is mad at Trump because he isn’t as hawkish as Bolton would like. Bolton isn’t alone as the majority of former administration officials all appear to have a similar afflictions.

    For some reason the expected to be able to lead Trump into accepting their positions. When it becomes apparent that Trump does not follow the lead of the swamp rats then leave.

    Don’t get me wrong as I really don’t like Trump as President even though he is marginally better than Biden would be. This have more to do with Trump being pounded by the media not stop whereas Biden would enjoy a sycophantic media.

    If the citizens really want a REAL CHANGE then they should throw their support behind the Libertarian party and vote for neither major political party.

    Face it both the Democrat and Republican parties want to take away our freedoms and impose their will on us. There may be some differences on which specific freedoms the each of the Republucrats want to take away, but a freedom lost is a freedom lost regardless.

    1. It’s not even close. The democrats are a flat out Marxist extremist party. Just look at the recent lockdowns in blue states.

  14. Finally! A REAL case of censorship against a conservative. Where is the DoJ and AG Barr now?

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  16. When Wikileaks revealed “secret” embassy mail discussing the breast size of Muammar Gaddafi’s personal nurse, I learned the US confidential rating system was not about National Security but National Embarrassment

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