Tuesday, June 16, 2020


Yesterday, ABC News reported:
Just a week before the much-awaited book by President Donald Trump’s former National Security Advisor John Bolton is set to go on sale, the Trump administration is expected to file a lawsuit in federal court seeking an injunction to block the book from being released in its current form, sources familiar with the matter told ABC News.

The lawsuit is expected to be filed in the coming days and could come as soon as today, sources said....
CNN's Brian Stelter was a tad skeptical about this lawsuit yesterday.
Trump was noncommittal when asked about the possibility of a lawsuit — he said "they're in court, or they'll soon be in court" over the book. This is an "I'll believe it when I see it" situation, given Team Trump's history of threatening to sue but not following through.
In fact, no lawsuit has been filed.

Simon & Schuster plans to publish the book next week. Trump is not just claiming that a lawsuit might be forthcoming -- he's warning of criminal prosecution.
"If he wrote a book and if the book gets out, he's broken the law and I would think you would have criminal problems. I hope so," Trump said....

Attorney General Bill Barr claimed that Bolton did not complete the process of pre-publication review with the White House to ensure classified information is not published.

But Bolton's lawyer contests that, writing in a Wall Street Journal op-ed last week that Bolton underwent a four-month review process and that the White House attempted to block publication at the last minute by claiming the book still contained classified information.
CNN's Stelter believes that attempting to block publication of the book, rather than seeking to punish Bolton after it's published, is the kind of thing that's just not done in America.
From a First Amendment perspective, it'll be a much bigger problem if the book doesn't get out. American politicians don't get to veto unflattering tomes — everyone knows that.
But do you think Trump cares? His administration says the book includes classified information. His base -- the only people whose opinions he cares about -- would applaud prior restraint of Bolton's book.

But he's not suing yet -- and what's more telling is that he didn't sue before copies became available to some reporters.
Copies of "The Room Where It Happened" have already been printed and shipped to distribution sites. Reporters at ABC News have already read the book, since Martha Raddatz sat down with Bolton on Monday for an interview that will air Sunday night in a prime time special. Other reporters are likely to obtain the book in the next few days. So if the Trump admin or the Trump campaign tries to sue to block the release of the book, the suit would be rendered moot...
Trump's threats are for show -- perhaps because he didn't know enough to sue before copies of the finished book left the warehouse and began going out to booksellers, reviewers, and reporters. If he'd been smarter, he would have sued a lot earlier. If he were a competent totalitarian, he would have been a lot more intimidating toward Bolton, Simon & Schuster, and S&S's parent company, ViacomCBS.

Barr knows that even Republican judges aren't likely to accept the administration's evidence of misuse of classified material (probably because there is no misuse). But Trump also seems more interested in stamping his foot and seeming like a tough guy than in actually doing something heavy-handed. He's just letting the book come out and hoping, as he has many timex throughout his life, that if he yells "I'LL SUE!" loudly enough he'll intimidate his antagonist.

He clearly won't. The book will arrive next week. The international totalitarians Trump admires so much would never allow something like this to happen.


UPDATE: Okay, here's the suit.
The U.S. on Tuesday filed a breach-of-contract lawsuit against former national security adviser John Bolton, seeking to delay the publication of his book, which the suit alleges contains classified information that could compromise national security.

The lawsuit, filed by the U.S. attorney in Washington, accused Mr. Bolton of breaching the contract he signed as a condition of his employment and to access classified information.
A few hours ago, Charlie Savage of The New York Times tweeted:

It makes Trump happy, though. It feels to Trump as if the government is making the book go away on Trump's orders -- even though that won't actually happen. Simon & Schuster (which is not named in the lawsuit) will still publish the book. Oh well -- anything to make the boss happy.

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