Top Ex-Bolton Aide Uses Courts To At Least Temporarily Delay Testifying

The National Security Advisor of the United States, John Bolton talks to Miami Herald on Latin American policy at the National Historic Landmark Miami Freedom Tower on November 1, 2018.
Former NSA John Bolton (Emily Michot/Miami Herald via AP)
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Charles Kupperman, who worked as deputy national security adviser until September and currently shares a lawyer with former National security Adviser John Bolton, will not testify Monday as originally planned. He is instead waiting on a judge to decide whether he has to comply with the House subpoena.

Though it has seemed unlikely that Kupperman would show up since late last week, CNN confirmed that he’d be a no-show Monday morning.

In a letter sent Sunday by his lawyer, Charles Cooper, to attorney for the House Intel Committee Daniel Noble, Cooper assures him that Kupperman “will comply with the Court’s judgment” if it comes down on the committees’ side.

Cooper submitted a lawsuit on Friday in D.C. District Court, asking the judge to decide if the subpoena is “valid” under House rules, and whether Kupperman is covered under White House lawyer Pat Cipollone’s assertion that he is “absolutely immune from compelled congressional testimony with respect to matters related to his service as senior adviser to the President.”

Kupperman, unlike Bolton, actually listened in on the July 25 call between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

Kupperman’s legal gymnastics to avoid or delay testifying may signal how Bolton will ultimately react if he’s subpoenaed as well. So far, House Democrats have only been in talks with Bolton’s lawyer about his testimony.

Bolton is considered a highly valued voice, after being name-dropped so many times in top Ukraine diplomat Bill Taylor’s testimony. In those episodes, Bolton frequently pushed back against the pressure campaign and tried to involve White House lawyers and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in the escalating situation.

Meanwhile, the impeachment inquiry continues to heat up, with a report this weekend confirming that ambassador to the EU Gordon Sondland testified to the House committees on October 17 that the Biden quid pro quo was at the center of Trump’s Ukrainian dealings.

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Notable Replies

  1. Using an admirable legal system in order to ultimately destroy it, because anything which delays or halts Trump’s removal hastens that day.

  2. Kupperman and his lawyers don’t understand Kupperman’s oath. It wasn’t to Trump or to Congress. It was to the Constitution. Most courts don’t give advisory opinions, but if this one does, I suspect he will be told to show up. The Constitution says the Congress has both oversight and impeachment authority. Executive Privilege is not a blanket privilege, but is limited and even it falls away when there is evidence of Presidential criminality.

  3. Based on nothing but momentum, I do believe a judge will compel Kupperman’s appearance and testimony.

    I hope I’m right.

  4. Kupperman sounds like a hostile witness…doubting the validity of the House rules which was set in 2015 by none other than the RepubliCONS!

    BTW, Kupperman should brush up on what happened to the Watergate Seven…just saying!


    In the context of a criminal case, it held that the privilege cannot trump the need to disclose information essential to reaching a just verdict. If executive privilege applied in the impeachment context it could not block disclosure of information essential to the impeachment inquiry. The Supreme Court rejected the notion that executive privilege is an absolute privilege in United States v. Nixon. The case for allowing the executive branch to withhold essential information is even weaker in the impeachment context than in the criminal trial context. Executive privilege cannot prevent disclosure of information essential to resolving the inquiry into whether the House should impeach the President and the Senate should remove him from office.

  5. In what reality is defying a legally issued subpoena legal? His lawyer doesn’t know that?

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