A US judge denied on Saturday a request by the Trump administration for an injunction to block publication of a book by Donald Trump's former national security adviser John Bolton that alleges the president sought China's help to win re-election.
"While Bolton's unilateral conduct raises grave national security concerns, the government has not established that an injunction is an appropriate remedy," US District Judge Royce Lamberth said in his ruling.
The administration had sought a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction against the publication of "The Room Where It Happened: A White House Memoir," saying it contained classified information and threatened national security.
The book, scheduled to hit store shelves on Tuesday, is already in the hands of media organizations.
"Defendant Bolton has gambled with the national security of the United States. He has exposed his country to harm and himself to civil (and potentially criminal) liability," the judge wrote.
But he said an injunction would be too late to stem the harm. "With hundreds of thousands of copies around the globe —many in newsrooms — the damage is done," Lamberth said.
Lamberth also said Bolton had acted unilaterally by proceeding to publish without waiting for prepublication review by the government.
A civil suit is pending against Bolton that seeks to force him to give the United States the right to all of the profits from the book.
Speaking to reporters as he departed the White House to fly to a campaign rally in Oklahoma, Trump again charged that Bolton had released classified information and lauded the judge's rebuke of Bolton as "a great ruling."
"The judge was very powerful in his statement on classified information and very powerful also on the fact that the country will get the money, any money he makes," Trump said. "Whatever he makes, he's going to be giving back."
In a later interview with Fox News Channel, Trump called what Bolton did "treasonous."
"He should go to jail for that for many, many years," he said.
Publishers Simon & Schuster and Bolton's lawyer Charles Cooper welcomed the ruling. "We respectfully take issue, however, with the Court's preliminary conclusion at this early stage of the case that Ambassador Bolton did not comply fully with his contractual prepublication obligation to the government," Cooper said in a statement.
Bolton's book has drawn wide attention for its withering portrayal of Trump. Bolton describes Trump as imploring Chinese President Xi Jinping for help in winning his 2020 re-election bid, and details alleged improprieties not addressed in Trump's impeachment trial.
Trump ousted Bolton, a foreign policy hawk, last September after 17 months as national security adviser.