The judge’s decision in the Trump clown parade’s attempt to block the release of John Bolton’s already-de-facto-released book has just come down.
It is as expected: nope, Billy Barr’s merry men cannot stop Bolton (and Simon and Schuster) from publishing. So Trump and Barr lose.
At the same time, Judge Royce Lambert noted that Bolton seems to have assumed that the courts would give him a pass to unilaterally drop out of the review process. No, nope, nyet, no way:
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, at 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; bu tif 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.
Judge Lambert noted that Bolton (likely) did what the government alleges–that, as he wrote, the United States would prevail on the merits.
IANAL, but I think Bolton would argue that the classification was after-the-fact and improperly applied. My guess is that’s probably true–virtually certainly so in at least some instances. Given Lambert’s opinion, it seems likely that argument this will be tested in another court and soon. From the tenor of the last paragraph in the opinion denying the government’s request for an injuction, that may very well end badly for the mustachioed warmonger:
“Defendent 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…”
So there is a good chance Bolton coughs up his $2 million advance, and maybe even dons an orange jumpsuit.
The dreamer in me has this fantasy: that Bolton, Barr, and Trump occupy three adjacent cells–and the latter two must spend their entire sentence listening to Bolton tell them how wrong they were, and right he was at every turn. All day. Can’t see to can’t see.
This is truly an instance where I am rooting for (judicial) injuries for every party.
*I’m guessing that wasn’t an accidental word choice to describe a man who has made Bolton’s facial hair choices.
**I know I should be concerned–I am!–about the chilling intent in the government’s pursuit of Bolton. But damn, “defendent Bolton” has such a lovely ring, doesn’t it.
Image: Jan van Eyck, The Just Judges (panel from the Ghent Altarpiece), between 1427-1430.