(CNN) — Former national security adviser John Bolton can seek evidence about the classification process around his book in case there was bad faith decision-making by the White House and intelligence community meant to protect President Donald Trump politically, a federal judge ruled on Thursday.
The court case over whether the federal government can take Bolton’s proceeds related to the book will continue.
Bolton maintains he didn’t intend to reveal classified information and believed the Trump administration classified information about the President after the book had gone through almost all needed approval steps. The book approval official Bolton worked with has backed up his retelling of the process, saying through her lawyer that Trump allies sought to protect the President.
Judge Royce Lamberth of the DC District Court decided on Thursday Bolton’s evidence-gathering will be heavily controlled in his court. He will be able to seek some evidence from junior government officials at first and must get the judge’s approval before continuing.
“Bolton may conduct discovery only on his allegations that President Trump or senior White House officials acted in bad faith by intentionally delaying prepublication review and by attempting to attempting unduly influence classification decisions,” Lamberth wrote.
The Bolton book — a major damaging moment for Trump politically during an election year — is one of the episodes that also garnered significant criticism of the Trump administration’s politicization of the intelligence community and Justice Department.
Former Attorney General William Barr had signed off on a White House request to sue to stop the publication of Bolton’s book, an extraordinary move days before its release.
In line with his hands-off approach outside of his political circle, Barr sent now-acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen to discuss with department attorneys how they must file the lawsuit against Bolton, according to a person familiar with the handling of the case. The lawyers advised that an attempt to stop Bolton’s book publication was ill-fated. Their concerns were ignored and Barr signed off on the lawsuit, the person said. That part of the lawsuit, seeking to stop the publication, failed because the book was already in booksellers’ hands.
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