(Reuters) – The United States on Tuesday sued former national security adviser John Bolton, seeking to block him from publishing a book about his time in the White House that it said contained classified information and would compromise national security.
The civil lawsuit came one day after U.S. President Donald Trump said Bolton would be breaking the law if the book were published.
The White House National Security Council (NSC) “has determined that the manuscript in its present form contains certain passages – some up to several paragraphs in length – that contain classified national security information,” the lawsuit said.
Publication of the book “would cause irreparable harm, because the disclosure of instances of classified information in the manuscript reasonably could be expected to cause serious damage, or exceptionally grave damage, to the national security of the United States,” according to the lawsuit.
Trump fired Bolton last September after roughly 17 months as national security adviser.
Trump said on Monday that Bolton knows he has classified information in his book, and that he had not completed a clearing process required for any book written by former government officials who had access to sensitive information.
Attorney General William Barr said the Justice Department was trying to get Bolton to complete the clearance process and “make the necessary deletions of classified information.”
Bolton’s lawyer Charles Cooper said they were reviewing the lawsuit and “will respond in due course.”
“The Room Where It Happened: A White House Memoir” is set to be published on June 23.
Publisher Simon and Schuster said the lawsuit is an attempt by the Trump administration to stop “publication of a book it deems unflattering to the President.” It said Bolton has fully cooperated with the NSC pre-publication review.
The book provides an insider account of Trump’s “inconsistent, scattershot decision-making process,” the publisher has said.
(Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; additional reporting by Eric Beech and Steve Holland in Washington; editing by Tom Brown and Richard Pullin)