WASHINGTON (CN) – A federal judge determined to fast-track a case brought by impeachment inquiry witness Charles Kupperman indicated Thursday the dispute over the former deputy national security adviser’s testimony to Congress will likely be resolved before the year is out.
Faced with a subpoena by House Democrats and President Donald Trump’s claim of “constitutional immunity,” Kupperman filed a lawsuit last week asking the judiciary branch to decide how to proceed in the tug-of-war between the legislative and executive powers.
Senior U.S. District Judge Richard Leon said Thursday the case is defined by great urgency and public interest. Kupperman was responsible for advising the president on national security policies toward Ukraine. He failed to appear to testify to the House Intelligence Committee on Monday.
The judge ordered the House of Representatives and the White House to file the necessary briefs by Nov. 27 and set Dec. 10 for oral arguments in Washington, D.C. federal court.
He shot down an entreaty from Justice Department attorney Elizabeth Shapiro, representing President Trump, to give the parties more time given the deadline falls one day before Thanksgiving.
“When it’s a matter of this consequence to this country you roll your sleeves up and get the job done,” said Leon, a George W. Bush appointee.
House attorney Todd Tatelman made clear the Democrat leadership steering the impeachment inquiry finds Kupperman’s case to be meritless.
Describing the lawsuit as a “fundamental miscarriage of justice,” the attorney said House Democrats have no doubt the subpoena issued by the investigatory committees is “completely valid.”
He also told Leon that the House intends to file a motion to dismiss by next Tuesday, assuring the judge: “We are prepared to move with all due speed.”
Tatelman said the White House would likely argue for a slower pace as a means of delaying the impeachment proceedings now dominating Congress.
Stepping to the lectern, Shapiro suggested a one-month deadline to file briefs.
“In terms of speed, we should take the time to do it right,” she added.
Meanwhile, Kupperman’s attorney, Charles Cooper, said his client was only looking to uphold the Constitution.
“We have no dog in the merit fight, your honor,” Cooper said, adding his client is prepared to comply with any decision the court reaches.
The Kupperman hearing unfolded as a second battle over impeachment witness testimony, that of former White House counsel Don McGahn, played out in a courtroom down the hall. The Justice Department argued any attempt by the court to enforce the House subpoena to McGahn would trigger a violation of the separation of powers.
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