John Bolton: Trump administration's effort to block book an attack on free speech

7 months ago 37
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June 19 (UPI) -- Former national security adviser John Bolton has asked a judge to dismiss a lawsuit by the Justice Department that seeks to block his forthcoming memoir that is highly critical of President Donald Trump.

The suit, filed this week, says the book -- The Room Where It Happened: A White House Memoir -- contains classified information and is potentially harmful to U.S. interests. Late Thursday, Bolton attorney Charles Cooper asked the judge to dismiss the legal challenge, saying it's merely an attempt to keep embarrassing facts about Trump's presidency from the public.

The U.S. District Court judge in Washington, D.C., will hold a hearing Friday to hear arguments on the issue, and could prevent the memoir's June 23 release with a temporary restraining order.

"If the First Amendment stands for anything, it is that the government does not have the power to clasp its hand over the mouth of a citizen attempting to speak on a matter of great public import," the filing from Bolton's attorney states.

"It is difficult to conceive of speech that is closer to the core of the First Amendment than speech concerning presidential actions in office, including actions at the heart of the president's impeachment, and it is difficult to conceive of a greater attack on the First Amendment than the suppression of that speech in the service of a re-election campaign. But that, we respectfully submit, is precisely what is happening in this case.

"Prior restraints on political speech strike at the heart of the American constitutional tradition, and for that reason, the Supreme Court has refused to countenance them even where the government has asserted that 'the information to be revealed threatens grave and irreparable injury to the public interest.'"

The filing also says the government suggested numerous redactions to portions of the book that it says contains sensitive information.

"The government's redactions are extensive and sweeping, apparently eliminating passages describing or recounting a significant majority of the president's conversations with his advisors and with foreign leaders," it states. "The government also deleted numerous passages portraying President Trump in an unflattering light."

In an interview with ABC News that will air Sunday, Bolton said Trump is unfit for the presidency and accused the president of acting primarily in the interests of his re-election.

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