Judge Dismisses Impeachment Lawsuit After Democrats Pull Plug on Witness

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., left, listens as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of Calif., right, speaks during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Oct. 2, 2019 (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
AP Photo/Susan Walsh

A federal judge in Washington, D.C. dismissed a lawsuit Monday that sought to determine whether a witness had to obey a subpoena from the impeachment inquiry after Democrats withdrew the subpoena and impeached Trump anyway.

U.S. District Court Judge Richard Leon decided Monday that the suit filed by Charles Kupperman, a former aide to former National Security Advisor John Bolton, was moot because the subpoena had already been withdrawn. The House Intelligence Committee had sought to compel Kupperman’s testimony as part of its inquiry into President Donald Trump’s dealings with Ukraine, alleging he withheld U.S. aid in return for investigations into former Vice President Joe Biden, who at the time was leading polls to win the Democratic Party’s 2020 presidential nomination.

Other witnesses in the inquiry indicated that Bolton had been skeptical of the efforts of U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland, who testified that he believed there had been a “quid pro quo” (though he was told directly by Trump that there was not). Bolton was said to have criticized Sondland’s so-called “drug deal.”

The House Intelligence Committee sought to compel the testimony of senior administration officials, but the White House instructed them not to cooperate with what it described as an illegitimate inquiry that disobeyed the rules of previous impeachment investigations. Kupperman had approached the courts to ask whom he was required to obey.

In his 14-page opinion, Judge Leon recounted that he had arranged an “aggressive” schedule for the case after being assigned it in late October, because “the case was a matter of great consequence to the country.” But just days later, the Intelligence Committee “withdrew its subpoena to Kupperman, and the House noticed the case as moot and moved to vacate the expedited briefing schedule,” because it did not want to wait even for a rushed judicial process.

Kupperman had wanted the court to rule anyway, but Judge Leon said that there was no chance the House would re-issue the subpoena, based on Democrats’ written submissions to the court. That might seem to contradict their claims elsewhere that they would continue investigating Trump with a view to new articles of impeachment.

President Trump was impeached for “obstruction of Congress” because he would not comply with congressional subpoenas. Democrats chose to impeach him anyway, before the courts had weighed in on his authority to do so.

Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. He earned an A.B. in Social Studies and Environmental Science and Public Policy from Harvard College, and a J.D. from Harvard Law School. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. He is also the co-author of How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, which is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.

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