The details of the book have already surfaced in a variety of media outlets and an excerpt in the Wall Street Journal, but the DOJ filed a motion on Wednesday for a temporary restraining order and a preliminary injunction.
The DOJ filed the motion (read it here) in U.S. District Court in the District of Columbia, and it is requesting a hearing for Friday. It claims the book contains classified information.
The Room Where It Happened is due to be released on Tuesday, and Bolton already sat down for an interview with ABC News’ Martha Raddatz.
The DOJ filed a lawsuit on Tuesday against Bolton, claiming that he failed to complete a review process to edit out classified information from the memoir. The lawsuit did not specify whether the government would seek an emergency action to halt the book’s release, as it now has.
Tellingly, the lawsuit was filed against Bolton, and not the publisher of the book, Simon & Schuster. But the government contends that if an injunction is filed, then it “should also bind” the publisher and, ultimately, booksellers.
“Tonight’s filing by the government is a frivolous, politically motivated exercise in futility. Hundreds of thousands of copies of John Bolton’s The Room Where It Happened have already been distributed around the country and the world,” the publisher said. “The injunction as requested by the government would accomplish nothing.”
In the book, Bolton claims that Trump sought the assistance of Chinese President Xi Jinping in helping win reelection. “I would print Trump’s exact words but the government’s pre-publication review process has decided otherwise,” Bolton wrote.
In an excerpt that ran in the Wall Street Journal, Bolton also writes that in one conversation, Xi “explained to Trump why he was basically building concentration camps in Xinjiang” for Uyghurs, the ethnic minority group in China. Trump “said that Xi should go ahead with building the camps, which Trump thought was exactly the right thing to do.”
Bolton also describes Trump as getting played by Russian President Vladimir Putin.
The case has been assigned to U.S. District Judge Royce C. Lamberth, who was nominated to the court by Ronald Reagan. He previously ruled in other cases for the release of Richard Nixon’s testimony in the Watergate scandal.
Mark Zaid, a national security attorney who represented the whistleblower at the heart of the impeachment probe, wrote on Twitter that what the government was doing was an “end run” around the landmark 1971 Supreme Court decision that the government couldn’t prevent publication of the Pentagon Papers.
Zaid wrote, “Quick analysis: This is unprecedented, meaningless Govt end-run attempt of SCOTUS Pentagon Papers decision to block publication of a book that has countless copies already in public domain. No way media outlets will be blocked from publishing further excerpts.”
On Hannity on Fox News on Wednesday, Trump said that Bolton “broke the law” in writing the book. “This is highly classified information and he did not have approval,” Trump said. But Trump did not address any of the specific allegations that Bolton made in the book, other than to argue that he has been tough on China and Russia.