Former White House deputy asks federal court to rule if he must comply with a congressional subpoena
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Former White House deputy asks federal court to rule if he must comply with a congressional subpoena

Former deputy national security advisor Charles Kupperman filed a lawsuit on Friday asking the United States District Court for the District of Columbia to rule on whether he must comply with a congressional subpoena ordering him to testify in the ongoing congressional impeachment inquiry.

Kupperman was subpoenaed because he was reportedly listening to the phone call between Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and US President Donald Trump at the core of the impeachment inquiry. Kupperman claims that he is receiving conflicting demands from the Executive and Legislative branches of the government and seeks a declaratory judgement from the court as to whether he needs to comply with the subpoena. The complaint states that it is up to the Judicial branch to resolve this dispute. Trump, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, and other House committee members are named as defendants in the lawsuit.

Kupperman says that he was explicitly directed by the White House Counsel’s Office not to appear at his hearing, which was held on Monday. The White House cited a Department of Justice memo from May 2019, stating that “the President and his immediate advisers are absolutely immune from testimonial compulsion by a Congressional committee’ on matters related to their official duties.”

Kupperman’s personal attorney, Charles Cooper, has stated that Kupperman will comply with an order from the court to testify.

Democrats in the House responded to the complaint by asserting that the issue cannot be decided by the court and that refusal to testify at the direction of Trump constitutes further obstruction of the inquiry. They claim that the Speech or Debate Clause, Article 1, Section 6, Clause 1, of the US Constitution bars any litigation attempt to interfere with the impeachment inquiry. House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff stated that this will not delay their investigation whether they pursue the subpoena in the courts or not.