Former White House national security official Charles Kupperman declined to appear in Congress Monday to testify as part of the impeachment proceedings against President Donald Trump, defying a subpoena.
Kupperman, former deputy to national security adviser John Bolton, had filed a lawsuit asking a judge to resolve the conflicting orders from the congressional subpoena compelling him to testify and the White House ordering not to cooperate with the impeachment inquiry. He could receive a contempt citation for failing to appear.
Kupperman’s attorney Charles Cooper said his client wants the courts to resolve the matter before he appears.
“We want to assure your clients, again, that it is not Dr. Kupperman who contests your clients’ constitutional claim,” Cooper said Sunday in a letter to legal counsel for the House intelligence committee. “It is President Trump and every president before him for at least the last half century, who have asserted testimonial immunity for their closest confidential advisers. If your clients’ position on the merits of this issue are correct, it will prevail in court, and Dr. Kupperman, I assure you again, will comply with the court’s judgment.”
Democrats have been calling witnesses for closed-door depositions for weeks as they gather evidence for possible impeachment of President Donald Trump. Trump is accused of withholding military aid to Ukraine on the condition that the country investigate his 2020 Democratic rival Joe Biden and his son, Hunter. The White House has said the aid was withheld because there were concerns about corruption in Ukraine. Several former administration officials have reportedly testified that the $400 million was contingent upon Ukraine investigating the 2016 election, probing the Bidens business dealings in the country and meeting with Trump in Washington D.C.
The impeachment inquiry is being led by Reps. Adam Schiff, Eliot Engel and Carolyn Maloney, who chair the House intelligence, foreign affairs and oversight committees.
They wrote a letter saying Kupperman’s lawsuit is “an obvious and desperate tactic by the president to delay and obstruct the lawful constitutional functions of Congress and conceal evidence about his conduct from the impeachment inquiry.”
Cooper responded saying the lawsuit wasn’t discussed with anyone at the White House and that his client has “no position” on whether Congress or the White House should prevail.
“It would not be appropriate for a private citizen like Dr. Kupperman to unilaterally resolve this momentous constitutional dispute between the two political branches of our government,” Cooper said.
On Sunday, the Democrat committee chairs insisted again that Kupperman comply with the order saying he “has a simple choice to make: either appear for a deposition tomorrow pursuant to a duly authorized subpoena, or abide by a baseless White House assertion that your client, a private citizen, should disregard his own legal obligations.”
Kupperman was on the July 25 phone call with Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.
Bolton, who stepped down as national security adviser over the summer, is consulting with his attorneys about possibly cooperating with the impeachment inquiry.
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