WASHINGTON — Hours before the Justice Department asked a judge to order President Donald Trump’s former national security adviser John Bolton to halt publication of his memoir, senior department lawyers and the White House Counsel’s Office were still debating whether to take that step, according to officials familiar with the deliberations.
The Trump administration had already filed a lawsuit seeking to seize Bolton’s $2 million payday because he did not complete a government review process to screen out any classified information from his manuscript. But some officials feared it was far too late to block the book’s distribution, so any attempt was doomed to fail and would make the government look inept.
Trump, however, was making clear that he wanted an aggressive response — even suggesting Bolton should face criminal charges. Ultimately,