The Justice Department is considering filing criminal charges against former National Security Adviser John Bolton over his soon-to-be-released White House tell-all, the LA Times reported on Wednesday. The newspaper also reported that the Justice Department was expected to file for a temporary restraining order on Wednesday against Bolton and his publisher, Simon & Schuster.
The report suggests the Justice Department may be willing to go to the mat in support of the idea that the government has broad discretion to prevent damaging or embarrassing information from going to press.
Prosecutors are reportedly deciding whether to charge Bolton with illegally disclosing classified information, as the Trump administration scrambles to contain politically damaging – and already released – revelations from the book.
Multiple newspapers published lengthy accounts of material in the book on Wednesday, one day after the Justice Department sued Bolton for breach of contract in a bid to stop the book from being published.
But filing criminal charges against the notoriously hawkish former National Security Adviser would mark an incredibly damaging and vindictive step for the Justice Department, which has already spent the past few months pushing the scales to benefit political allies of President Trump’s.
It’s not clear how far that would go, given that the book has already been partly published in excerpted newspaper stories and book reviews, and that the galleys for the memoir have already been shipped.