Former U.S. President Donald Trump adviser Charles Kupperman’s lawsuit asking the courts whether he should testify in the House impeachment probe forced Democrats to rescind their subpoena.
“The subpoena at issue in this matter has been withdrawn, and there is no current intention to reissue it,” Democrats wrote in court filings, the Hill reported.
On October 25, Kupperman, who served as a top aide for White House national security adviser John Bolton at the White House National Security Council (NSC), filed a lawsuit essentially asking the courts to rule on whether he should abide by the House Democrat’s subpoena, citing concerns that his testimony would inflict Constitutional damage on either the House or executive branch.
Acknowledging that the lawsuit may take so long to settle that Kupperman may not have to testify, Democrats who want to rush the partisan impeachment inquiry pulled the subpoena.
Democrats have indicated they want to vote on impeachment by Christmas. The leaders of the House Committees on Oversight and Reform, Intelligence, and Foreign Affairs conducting the impeachment inquiry attributed Kupperman’s subpoena defiance to “White House obstruction,” in an October 26 statement.
The Hill quoted an unnamed House Intelligence Committee official as explaining their decision Wednesday:
There is no proper basis for a witness to sue the Congress in court to oppose a duly authorized congressional subpoena. Nevertheless, given the schedule of our impeachment hearings, a court process that leads to the dismissal of Dr. Kupperman’s flawed lawsuit would only result in delay, so we have withdrawn his subpoena.
The White House has said it will not cooperate in the impeachment probe.
In a November 1st U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) memo released to the public Tuesday, the Trump administration argued that Democrat impeachment investigators’ attempts to compel testimony from executive branch officials are “legally invalid” unless they allow government attorneys to accompany the witnesses.
The assistance of government counsel is needed because testimony has the potential to disclose information “protected by executive privilege,” the DOJ Office of Legal Counsel noted in a memo.
While some officials did show up for their testimony, several White House officials bucked the House Democrats’ subpoena to testify in the impeachment inquiry this week.
Democrats are urging Kupperman’s attorneys to convince the former Bolton aide to testify if the court rules in a separate case involving former White House counsel Don McGahn, who is questioning the courts as to whether he should testify.
In both cases, the defendants argue that they have “absolute immunity” from complying with congressional subpoenas, as suggested by DOJ.
Kupperman is considered a prominent witness since he was on the infamous July 25 call between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, considered the crux of the impeachment inquiry.
It appears that the approach employed by Kupperman and his lawyers could serve as a blueprint for individuals who are not willing to testify in the impeachment probe, as it ended up pressuring the Democrats to drop their subpoena.
House Democrats have asked Bolton to testify, but his attorney told the House investigators the former White House official would take the matter to court if he is subpoenaed, echoing the actions of Kupperman. Saying they ware waiting for the court to rule on McGahn, the Democrats have not issued a subpoena to compel testimony from Bolton.
Resembling the position of Kupperman, Bolton has indicated he will testify, defying the White House, if the court compels him to do so.