Bolton gets good news and bad news from federal judge

Bolton was no doubt pleased the judge cleared the way for the book's release, but there's no reason to assume his legal troubles are over.
Image: National Security Adviser John Bolton stands alongside President Donald Trump as he speaks during a meeting in the Oval Office.
National Security Adviser John Bolton stands alongside President Donald Trump as he speaks during a meeting in the Oval Office.Saul Loeb / AFP - Getty Images

With former White House National Security Advisor John Bolton's book scheduled to be released tomorrow, the Trump administration went to court to block its publication. That didn't turn out especially well for the White House -- though the proceedings weren't a total win for Bolton, either. NBC News reported:

A federal judge declined the Justice Department's request for an order delaying publication of former national security adviser John Bolton's tell-all book about his 17 months in President Donald Trump's administration. In a 10-page order, U.S. District Court Judge Royce Lamberth sharply criticizes Bolton and while he suggests that the national security concerns may indeed be valid, he rejects the government's argument that an injunction would be effective at this point given its already-wide circulation and discussion in the media.

On the surface, this was the outcome Bolton and his lawyers wanted to see: the Trump administration wanted to block the release of the book, and a federal judge rejected the argument. Barring some 11th-hour development, The Room Where It Happened will be available to the public tomorrow.

But looking over the ruling, Judge Lamberth -- originally tapped for the federal bench by Ronald Reagan -- left little doubt that he was concerned about how Bolton dealt with his book and the publishing process.

"Defendant Bolton has gambled with the national security of the United States," the judge concluded. "He has exposed his country to harm and himself to civil (and potentially criminal) liability. But these facts do not control the motion before the Court. The government has failed to establish that an injunction will prevent irreparable harm. Its motion is accordingly DENIED."

With this in mind, the president was in a celebratory mood, despite the fact that his administration failed to block the book. "BIG COURT WIN against Bolton," Trump wrote on Twitter. He added, "Bolton broke the law and has been called out and rebuked for so doing, with a really big price to pay. He likes dropping bombs on people, and killing them. Now he will have bombs dropped on him!"

So, what happens now? NBC News' report concluded:

Lamberth conducted a review late Friday, out of public view, of the information the government claimed is classified. Although the judge declined to delay the book's publication, the government's lawsuit remains alive, partly because it also seeks an order seizing any profits Bolton earns from the book. Lamberth will have to decide whether the book did, in fact, contain classified information and whether Bolton abided by all the requirements for review.

I don't doubt that Bolton was pleased the judge cleared the way for the book's release, but there's no reason to assume his legal troubles are over.