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Wake Up To Politics - June 17, 2020

Good Wednesday morning. It’s June 17, 2020. 139 days until Election Day. Have questions, comments, or tips? Email me.

Trump administration sues Bolton over forthcoming memoir

The Justice Department filed a lawsuit against former national security adviser John Bolton on Tuesday, accusing him of breaching a non-disclosure agreement on classified information by moving forward with the publication of his forthcoming memoir.

The 27-page suit details Bolton’s communications with the White House about the manuscript; according to the government, the former Trump aide backed out of the standard National Security Council review process for such memoirs, in violation of the NDA he signed before joining the administration. As a result, the DOJ said, the 592-page manuscript set to be released next week is “rife with classified information” and illegal disclosures about national security.

Bolton’s attorney, Charles Cooper, accused the White House of abusing the prepublication review process in a Wall Street Journal op-ed last week. In Cooper’s telling, Bolton cooperated with an “intensive four-month review” and only pushed forward with publishing “after weeks of silence from the White House,” which he saw as an attempt at censorship.

The book, “The Room Where It Happened: A White House Memoir,” is scheduled to be published on Tuesday, June 23. Bolton has already sat for an interview with journalist Martha Raddatz, which is set to air in a primetime ABC special on Sunday. And, lawsuit or not, it has already been “printed, bound, and shipped to distributors across the country,” according to Cooper.

A press release issued by Simon & Schuster, the publisher, last week said that Bolton’s book would contain a “detailed, inside account” of his time at Trump’s side, including allegations of presidential misconduct “across the full range of [Trump’s] foreign policy.” He will also portray Trump, the release said, as “a president for whom getting elected was the only thing that mattered, even if it meant endangering or weakening the country.”

Bolton served as national security adviser from April 2018 to September 2019, departing amid a slew of policy disputes with Trump. After exiting the White House, he declined to testify in the House impeachment probe against Trump, waiting to offer his eyewitness account until his book release.

Notably, the administration’s lawsuit did not order Simon & Schuster to halt publication of the memoir; instead, the suit was aimed at Bolton personally, demanding that the author take “all actions within his power to stop the publication and dissemination of his book as currently drafted” and requesting the judge seize any profits from the book and turn them over to the government.

While the bar for blocking publication of the book (a process known as prior restraint) would have been high, seeking to obtain the book’s proceeds by accusing Bolton of breaching his contract — as the White House did — was likely an easier legal path.

“The case law on prepublication review cases is rather clear,” national security lawyer Bradley Moss told Wake Up To Politics. “If the person publishes without getting final, written approval from the government that the manuscript does not contain classified information, then the government can file a civil suit for breach of contract and seize all financial proceeds from the sale of the book.”

“This is simply about the money, at least for now,” added Moss, who has been involved in his share of disputes with the federal government.

As with other tell-alls by former aides that have provoked President Trump’s ire, the lawsuit against Bolton is expected to boost book sales. The memoir rocketed to the top of Amazon’s bestseller list Tuesday, and will likely remain there as anticipation over the book grows.

Bolton’s book is not the only one waiting for publication that has Trump contemplating legal action. According to the Daily Beast, the president is considering suing his niece, Mary Trump, over an upcoming book she penned about their family. “Too Much and Never Enough: How My Family Created the World’s Most Dangerous Man” is set to be published July 28 and will reportedly include explosive revelations about the president and his family dynamics.

The Rundown

Senate Republicans will unveil their police reform bill today. The legislation, crafted by Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC) in the wake of protests over the police killing of George Floyd, will “require more disclosure about the use of force, require reporting on no-knock warrants and provide incentives for chokehold bans,” according to Politico, which obtained a copy of the bill text.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) is expected to announce a vote on the bill next week. It is unclear if Democrats, who have released their own police reform proposal, will back the plan or seek to filibuster it. President Trump signed an executive order Tuesday to offer federal incentives for police departments to enact changes to their practices; Democrats blasted that order as “insufficient,” but have yet to weigh in on the Senate GOP legislation.

A trio of highly-populated states reported their largest one-day increases in coronavirus cases on Tuesday. Florida (2,783 new cases), Texas (2,622), and Arizona (2,392) all saw record-breaking caseloads; according to a New York Times database, they are three of 21 states where new cases of the virus continue to increase.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the federal government’s leading epidemiologist, told the Wall Street Journal on Tuesday that the rise in new cases “cannot be explained by increased testing” — as President Trump and Vice President Mike Pence have argued. Fauci also told the Daily Beast in a separate interview that he would not attend Trump’s planned campaign rally in Tulsa. “I'm in a high risk category. Personally, I would not,” he said. “Of course not.”

The Nebraska Democratic Party has called on its U.S. Senate nominee to exit the race after making sexually explicit comments to a female staffer. The nominee, Chris Janicek, refused to heed the call to withdraw Tuesday, despite a unanimous vote by the party’s executive committee.

According to the Associated Press, Janicek made the comments in a group chat with the female staffer and four other people. In the group chat, he discussed “getting her laid” and went on to describe an imagined group sex scene involving the staffer.


*All times Eastern

President Donald Trump will announce the PREVENTS Task Force Roadmap, a comprehensive plan to prevent veteran suicide, at 2 p.m. in the Rose Garden.

The Senate will convene at 10 a.m. The chamber will vote at 11:45 a.m. on the passage of the Great Americans Outdoors Act, which would fund national parks maintenance projects, followed by a vote to advance the nomination of Justin Walker to be a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia.  

Walker, 38, is a Kentucky district court judge and a protégé of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s. If confirmed, he would join the most powerful circuit court in the nation, with jurisdiction over many federal agencies and a history as a steppingstone to the Supreme Court.

The House is not in session.

The Supreme Court is not in session.

Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden will travel to Pennsylvania. He is slated to meet with small business owners in Yeadon and deliver remarks at 2:15 p.m. in Darby on “making sure the country’s reopening is effective, safe, and gets Americans back to work.”

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