When conservatives heard the news that federal District Judge Royce Lamberth betrayed President Donald Trump, to side with former Deep State spook John Bolton, they were furious. Sorry, too late, Lambert wrote in his ruling. “An injunction is not an appropriate remedy.” Even though his ruling wasn’t what conservatives hoped for, Bolton’s win turned out to be karmic defeat in disguise.
Judge hands Bolton a win he can’t use
On Saturday, Judge Lamberth issued a legally correct decision. “The government has not established that an injunction is an appropriate remedy.” It may anger conservatives but it turns out not to be as helpful to the Deep State as it seems.
His ruling simply amounts to an acknowledgment that the genie is already out of the bottle. “With hundreds of thousands of copies around the globe — many in newsrooms — the damage is done,” he later tweeted.
Lamberth spelled out in his ruling exactly how Bolton was shooting craps with American national security. “Defendant 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.” He won the roll but lost all the side bets.
Did he reveal security secrets
The simple answer, to whether the information is classified, Judge Lamberth writes, is “yes.” He flips it around to words that lawyers like to use under a paragraph headed, “discussion.” Is the government likely to succeed on the merits? He asked. In other words, prove Bolton leaked classified information? “Yes. Bolton disputes that his book contains any such classified information and emphasizes his months-long compliance with the prepublication review process.”
NOW: A federal judge will *not* block the release of John Bolton's book, noting the "horse is already out of the barn."
— Zoe Tillman (@ZoeTillman) June 20, 2020
Bolton “bristles at the mixed messages sent by prepublication review personnel,” or at least his mustache does. Bolton thinks he can ignore the “messages” that say his material is classified. Bolton also “questions the motives of intelligence officers.” Their motivation isn’t a factor, the judge writes. Bolton deliberately chose not to follow the rules. “Bolton could have sued the government and sought relief in court. Instead, he opted out of the review process before its conclusion.” It was a crap-shoot.
“Unilateral fast-tracking carried the benefit of publicity and sales, and 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, but if he is wrong, he stands to lose his profits from the book deal, exposes himself to criminal liability, and imperils national security. Bolton is wrong.”
Bolton won the right to publish but if he uses it, he could wind up in jail. President Trump was quick to remind everyone the material was classified. The president tapped out on Twitter, “he must pay a very big price for this, as others have before him. This should never to happen again!!!”
Per Judge Lamberth, the government *can’t* stop release of Bolton’s book (no kidding), but it probably *will* be able to stop him from making any money off of it. https://t.co/MTGXRKOKT9
— Steve Vladeck (@steve_vladeck) June 20, 2020