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Awaiting Bolton book

One sure way to increase interest and boost sales of a book is to try to ban it. This point seems lost on President Donald Trump.

The president seeks to use the full force of the U.S. government to block the June 23 release of former national security adviser John Bolton’s book, “The Room Where it Happened.” He won’t be successful, thanks to the U.S. Constitution.

“Congress shall make no law … abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press,” reads the First Amendment.

Federal courts have pointed consistently to that clear mandate in refusing to exercise “prior restraint,” meaning they won’t act to block publication. Once published, an author and publisher can be sued for libel. A writer can be arrested for disclosing classified information. But the courts won’t give the government the power to choose which publications see the light of day.

So, while the Trump administration’s attempts will fail, its efforts suggest there is interesting stuff in there that Trump doesn’t want folks to see. That will generate greater interest and sales.

This happened before.

In early 2018, Trump’s lawyers warned publisher Henry Holt & Co. not to publish Michael Wolff’s book, “Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House.” Advanced copies had leaked out. They weren’t flattering.

“Mr. Trump hereby demands that you immediately cease and desist from any further publication, release or dissemination of the book … and that you issue a full and complete retraction and apology to my client as to all statements made about him in the book … that lack competent evidentiary support,” read the letter, which the publisher happily released.

“Fire and Fury” debuted at number one on The New York Times Best Seller list, and within a week had become the fastest selling book in the publisher's history. It has sold more than 4 million copies.

While Wolff’s book depicted dysfunction and general lunacy in the Trump administration, it did not tie it to dire policy results. Bolton’s book, it appears, will get into what that dysfunction has meant for foreign policy, national security and the abuse of presidential authority.

The administration delayed the book with a prolonged review of potential classified material. Bolton and the publisher, recognizing they were being jerked around, have proceeded toward publication. The Justice Department is now asking a court to seize profits from the book unless Bolton blocks it.

Sure sounds like a must read.

The Day editorial board meets regularly with political, business and community leaders and convenes weekly to formulate editorial viewpoints. It is composed of President and Publisher Tim Dwyer, Editorial Page Editor Paul Choiniere, Managing Editor Tim Cotter, Staff Writer Julia Bergman and retired deputy managing editor Lisa McGinley. However, only the publisher and editorial page editor are responsible for developing the editorial opinions. The board operates independently from the Day newsroom.

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