House Withdraws Subpoena for Ex-Top National Security Adviser

WASHINGTON (CN) – House Democrats reversed course Wednesday when they abruptly yanked a subpoena for testimony from former White House deputy national security adviser Charles Kupperman, one of several officials who listened in on the call between President Donald Trump and Ukraine President Volodomyr Zelensky that underpins the impeachment inquiry.

Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., second from right, speaks with members of the media after former deputy national security adviser Charles Kupperman signaled that he would not appear as scheduled for a closed door meeting to testify as part of the House impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump on Oct. 28, 2019, on Capitol Hill in Washington. Standing with Schiff are Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y., from left, Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md., and Rep. Eric Swalwell, D-Calif. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

It is unclear why lawmakers opted to back off the subpoena. Kupperman sued last month asking a federal court in Washington to resolve “competing demands” between the legislative and executive branches.

Impeachment investigators in the House initially sought Kupperman’s testimony, notes and records related to the July 25 call between Trump and Zelensky. But as an administration insider, Kupperman was also sought after for his insights into his onetime superior, former national security adviser John Bolton.

According to the 4-page notice filed in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, House lawmakers are not planning to reissue the subpoena now or in the future.

Dubbing the matter “moot,” the filing also confirms that Democrats’ general counsel, Douglas Letter, conferred with attorneys representing Trump as well as Kupperman’s attorney Charles Cooper after deciding to pull the subpoena. Trump’s right to respond to the filing is reserved.

Should Senior U.S. District Judge Richard Leon disagree with House Democrats’ decision to pull the subpoena, then Democrats said they will move to dismiss the lawsuit altogether.

A hearing to resolve whether Kupperman should be forced to comply with the subpoena and observe congressional privilege over the executive was set for early December. That hearing will likely be canceled.

In a letter sent Tuesday by House Foreign Affairs chairman Eliot Engel, House Intelligence Committee chairman Adam Schiff and House Oversight Committee acting chairwoman Carolyn Maloney to Kupperman, the lawmakers argued the former White House official’s case was much farther from resolution than a similar matter involving another ex-White House official: counsel Don McGahn.

Since April, lawmakers have sought testimony from McGahn related to former special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe of Russian interference in the 2016 election and whether Trump attempted to obstruct that investigation.

McGahn’s motions were long filed, the question of absolute immunity fully briefed, lawmakers wrote just a day before pulling the subpoena.

Kupperman’s attorney did not immediately respond to request for comment.

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