Blessed Day! John Bolton Is In A Heap Of Sh*t.
In the least surprising decision ever, US District Judge Royce Lamberth ruled on Saturday that the government can't enjoin publication of John Bolton's tell-all, The Room Where It Happened, which has already been weighing down the nightstand of every reporter in DC for a week now.
"A single dedicated individual with a book in hand could publish its contents far and wide from his local coffee shop," the judge wrote. "With hundreds of thousands of copies around the globe—many in newsrooms—the damage is done. There is no restoring the status quo."
In Friday's hearing, the government argued that national security would be MORE jeopardized by further dissemination of whatever classified info they claim is in Bolton's book. As if Kim Jong-un is just waiting for midnight when the recorded version will be available at Audible, and then he'll have us in his sights BWAHAHAHAHAHA!
In fact, a pirated .pdf of the manuscript has been floating around Twitter for free all weekend. Or so we hear! The horse couldn't be any more out of the barn if he'd wandered into the glue factory, never to be seen again. So Bolton's book will go to press, and if you somehow managed to miss all the news coverage of Trump being a traitorous dipshit who refused to condemn Chinese concentration camps because he wanted Xi Jinping to help him get reelected by purchasing more corn and soybeans, you can download a Kindle copy at midnight for just $16.99.
What's more, you can be virtually certain you won't be putting any money in John Bolton's pocket when you do it. Because, as the OG pre-clearance review lawyers Mark Zaid and Brad Moss have been screaming for weeks now, Bolton is highly likely to forfeit any profits to Uncle Sam.
I've handled more prepublication review cases than anyone. If Govt deems even one word classified, #Bolton can be p… https://t.co/VQyZsT8Fng— Mark S. Zaid (@Mark S. Zaid)1591572029.0
As Moss wrote in Lawfare about Omarosa Manigault-Newman's book, "If the individual does not follow [the classification review] process, the courts have been clear time and time again that they will side with the government if and when it ultimately takes legal action — whether civil or criminal — against the individual, no matter how flimsy the underlying classification determination may have been." Brass tacks, if you flout your clearance NDA and go to press, the court is going to come down on you like a ton of bricks.
Bolton could have filed suit to challenge the government's decision, which was hinky as shit. The career pre-clearance officer, Ellen Knight, told Bolton on April 27 that the book was probably good to go. Then Devin Nunes's former lackey Michael Ellis, now senior director of the National Security Council, got hold of it and decided that it was just chock full of Top Secret info.
Ellis completed his review on June 9, but only went through the statutorily mandated classification review training on June 10. But it's cool, the government insists, because after Ellis got trained, he realized he'd gotten it exactly right on Bolton's book. And because Ellis was an original classification authority, he was able to retroactively classify anything he wanted. Which the government admitted during Friday's hearing that he'd done at least once, adding a new classified label to something the career reviewer had agreed was public. But because Bolton went to press without challenging it, the presumption that Ellis was behaving appropriately will be hard to rebut.
And indeed it seems the government did manage to convince Judge Lamberth that Bolton's book discloses classified material that will harm national security. After an ex parte hearing with just DOJ lawyers, he wrote:
Bolton disputes that his book contains any such classified information and emphasizes his months-long compliance with the prepublication review process. He bristles at the mixed messages sent by prepublication review personnel and questions the motives of intelligence officers. Bolton could have sued the government and sought relief in court. Instead, he opted out of the review process before its conclusion. Unilateral fast-tracking carried the benefit of publicity and sales, and the cost of substantial risk exposure. This was Bolton's bet: If he is right and the book does not contain classified information, he keeps the upside mentioned above; but if he is wrong, he stands to lose his profits from the book deal, exposes himself to criminal liability, and imperils national security. Bolton was wrong.
OUCH. No wonder Donald Trump is out there characterizing this loss as a win.
Apparently we're going to bomb John Bolton's mustache now?
Reportedly, Trump is very hot to do LOCK HER UPS to Bolton, and knowing Bill Barr, he's undoubtedly ready to make it happen. Which is yet another gross abuse of the Justice Department by Jowly Roy Cohn, but also ... when your enemies are in the process of destroying each other, maybe go outside and eat your lunch in the sunshine and fresh air?
Isn't that how the saying goes?
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Liz Dye lives in Baltimore with her wonderful husband and a houseful of teenagers. When she isn't being mad about a thing on the internet, she's hiding in plain sight in the carpool line. She's the one wearing yoga pants glaring at her phone.