Judge Napolitano: 'Too little, too late' for government to block John Bolton's book

Judge Andrew Napolitano said on Thursday that the DOJ's attempt to block former national security adviser John Bolton’s book is "too little, too late."

“In fact, the documents that the DOJ filed didn't even name Simon & Schuster the publisher as a defendant, so, the judge is going to say, why did you guys wait until after the book was printed and delivered and who do you want me to restrain? John Bolton wrote the book. He doesn’t distribute it,” the Fox News senior judicial analyst told “Fox & Friends.”

“It makes one wonder if the DOJ’s heart is in this because, first, it is nearly impossible to cause a court to enter an order that produces prior restraint. That’s the technical phrase for stopping something from being published after it's been printed,” Napolitano said.


Napolitano reacted to the Department of Justice (DOJ) requesting that Bolton’s memoir, “The Room Where It Happened,” be blocked from publication, claiming "disclosure of the manuscript will damage” U.S. national security.

"Regardless of rank or position, every individual entrusted with access to our nation's secrets has a legal duty and responsibility to protect classified information,” Director of National Intelligence (DNI) John Ratcliffe said in a statement to Fox News Wednesday.

He wrote, “As the Director of National Intelligence, I am authorized and obligated by law to protect the critical work of the intelligence community from any and all unauthorized disclosures, which is what I have done today."

According to the court filing Wednesday, security officials at the DNI and other intelligence agencies believe the manuscript contains classified information.

The publisher Simon & Schuster is not listed as the defendant on the court documents though the DOJ is asking that the publisher be bound from releasing the documents or publishing the manuscript until they have received “written authorization after the conclusion of the government’s prepublication review.”

But a spokesperson from the publisher says the injunction comes too late and is “politically motivated.”


Napolitano said that an example of a "prior restraint" that a court might permit would be the revelation of where troops were going in wartime.

“Second, the Pentagon Papers case basically insulates the publisher from liability. That case says even if you get stolen secrets, if they are material to the public interest, you can publish them,” Napolitano said.

“I don’t blame the president for being angry, he’s probably upset because he believed that John would not reveal all of this stuff. But the DOJ is too little too late for this.”