What are the consequences to John Bolton or his publisher if they fail to get pre-publication approval of Bolton's upcoming book (and publish anyway)?

In that same vein, if the White House were to disapprove of certain passages, is the White House obligated to provide a rationale for that censorship?

Can Bolton or his publisher contest that rationale , perhaps by publishing (those passages) without approval. Then what happens?

1 Answer 1


Assuming the book does not disclose any classified information, there's nothing the White House can do. Even if it does disclose classified information, there's very little the White House can do. The First Amendment to the US Constitution is quite clear about freedom of the press, and various recent Supreme Court rulings have strongly backed that. The most relevant is probably New York Times v. United States, about the Times' publication of the Pentagon Papers, a then-classified document about the Vietnam War.

If it contains classified information, Bolton personally can be arrested for espionage or similar crimes (Daniel Ellsberg, who leaked the Pentagon Papers, was, but he was acquitted due to gross misconduct on the part of the govenrnment).

If it contains defamatory claims, Donald Trump, acting as a private individual, can sue, but that's a different matter.

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