The Trump administration sued on Tuesday to stop the publication of a highly anticipated book by President Donald Trump’s former national security adviser John Bolton about his time in the White House.
The book, “The Room Where It Happened,” is set for release June 23. Administration officials have repeatedly warned Bolton against publishing the book, saying it contains classified information about his time in the White House from spring 2018 through September 2019.
The lawsuit was filed in federal court in Washington. Bolton’s lawyer, Charles Cooper, has said that his client acted in good faith and that the Trump administration is abusing a standard review process to prevent Bolton from revealing information that is merely embarrassing to the president but not a threat to national security.
On Monday, Trump accused Bolton of violating policies related to classified information by moving ahead with the book.
But the book has already been printed and bound and has shipped to warehouses, which could make it more difficult for the administration to stop Bolton’s account from becoming public.
Bolton submitted the manuscript to the administration for review in January. At the time, the impeachment inquiry was underway into whether Trump’s dealings with Ukraine constituted an abuse of power.
Democrats asked Bolton to testify voluntarily in the House impeachment inquiry, but he declined, and they never sought a subpoena, fearing a protracted court fight. Bolton offered to testify in the impeachment trial in the Senate, where Republicans control the majority. They declined to call him.
One critical account from the book emerged during the trial, when The New York Times reported that Bolton, in his manuscript, said that Trump directly tied military aid to Ukraine to his desire for investigations to undermine a political rival, former Vice President Joe Biden. Bolton made clear, in a statement released this week, that the book contains other explosive details.
The government’s system for reviewing books and other material by former officials was created to ensure that classified and other sensitive information remained secret. Officials must agree to submit any works to the review process in order to obtain a security clearance.
A group of former national security officials said last year in a lawsuit that the prepublication review process for books and articles unjustifiably restricted their rights to free speech and due process.
They claimed that the review system, which is governed by several ambiguous policies, gives reviewing officials too much discretionary power over what is published and allows them to quickly clear reviews for former officials who write positively about the government.