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Trump’s lawsuit to halt Bolton book is one part of a vicious campaign

National Security Adviser John Bolton listens as President Donald Trump holds a Cabinet meeting at the White House, April 9, 2018.

Kevin Lamarque | Reuters

WASHINGTON — Former national security advisor John Bolton filed a motion in federal court asking the judge to dismiss a last-minute Trump administration lawsuit against him that seeks to halt the release of his damning memoir, “The Room Where it Happened.” 

The motion by the Justice Department late Thursday was the latest tactical maneuver in an ongoing battle between the career Republican foreign policy wonk and President Donald Trump over the book, which is scheduled for release Tuesday.

The Justice Department alleged in a lawsuit against Bolton filed one week before the book’s release that the memoir contains classified information. A day later, it asked a judge to halt distribution and sale of the book, details of which already have been widely reported. 

In the motion to dismiss, Bolton attorney Charles Cooper denied there is classified information in the book, and detailed a months-long prepublication review process that Bolton underwent with the National Security Council.

This editing process ended in late April, Cooper said, when Bolton received an email from the official reviewer saying his manuscript did not contain any classified information. The fact that the government never sent Bolton an official letter clearing the book for publication is meaningless, he argued. 

The White House’s subsequent claim that the NSC reviewer missed some classified information is “pretext designed to cover up what is in fact a determined political effort to suppress Ambassador Bolton’s speech,” said Cooper.

But barring all of this, Cooper said, the entire question of blocking the book’s release is already moot, because thousands of copies have already been shipped to stores across the United States and around the world. 

A preliminary hearing on the government’s lawsuit is scheduled for Friday at 1 p.m. ET via videoconference.

A damning portrait of Trump 

Trump’s personal interest in quashing Bolton’s memoir goes as far back as February, when he told reporters at a private lunch: “We’re going to try and block the publication of the book. After I leave office, he can do this. But not in the White House.” 

It’s easy to see why Trump wanted Bolton muzzled as long as Trump was in office. “The Room Where it Happened” paints Trump as a “stunningly uninformed,” craven and mendacious chief executive, and one who repeatedly signaled his willingness to sell out the nation’s security interests if it meant advancing his own interests.

One of the key takeaways from the book is that it supports the heart of impeachment charges filed against Trump alleging that the president withheld U.S. foreign aid to Ukraine to coerce the U.S. ally into helping Trump’s reelection campaign as Kyiv battled a war with Russia-supported insurgents. Bolton did not testify before the House impeachment inquiry but said he would testify…

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2020-06-19 13:45:36

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