A U.S. judge on Saturday denied a request by the Trump administration for an injunction to block publication of a book by President Donald Trump’s former national security adviser John Bolton that alleges the president sought China’s help to win re-election.
“While Bolton’s unilateral conduct raises grave national security concerns, the government has not established that an injunction is an appropriate remedy,” U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth said in his ruling.
The administration had sought a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction against the publication of “The Room Where It Happened: A White House Memoir,” saying it contained classified information and threatened national security.
The book, scheduled to hit store shelves on Tuesday, is already in the hands of media organizations.
“Defendant Bolton has gambled with the national security of the United States. He has exposed his country to harm and himself to civil (and potentially criminal) liability,” the judge wrote.
But he said an injunction would be too late to stem the harm. “With hundreds of thousands of copies around the globe —many in newsrooms — the damage is done,” Lamberth said.
In a tweet shortly after the decision was released, Trump charged again that Bolton was releasing classified information. “He must pay a very big price for this, as others have before him,” Trump said. “This should never to happen again!!!”
Trump drew some solace from the judge’s rebuke of Bolton.
“BIG COURT WIN against Bolton. Obviously, with the book already given out and leaked to many people and the media,” Trump said.
Simon & Schuster, the publishers of Bolton’s memoir welcomed the ruling.
“We are grateful that the Court has vindicated the strong First Amendment protections against censorship and prior restraint of publication,” they said in a statement.
Bolton’s book has drawn wide attention for its withering portrayal of Trump and how politics drove the president’s foreign policy. Bolton describes Trump as imploring Chinese President Xi Jinping for help in winning his 2020 re-election bid, and he detailed alleged improprieties not addressed in Trump’s impeachment trial.
Trump ousted Bolton, a foreign policy hawk, last September after 17 months as national security adviser.