A federal judge on Thursday set a Dec. 10 hearing date for what he said was the “urgent” matter of whether the House can enforce a subpoena for the testimony of a former White House official in its impeachment inquiry.
Charles Kupperman filed a lawsuit against the House and President Donald Trump on Friday, after he was subpoenaed to testify in the ongoing investigation. Kupperman served as a top aide to then-National Security Adviser John Bolton and was acting national security adviser for a few days after Bolton’s departure last month.
Kupperman is asking the courts to settle whether he has to comply with the congressional subpoena, or whether the White House’s claim that it can prevent Kupperman’s testimony is valid. In court Thursday, Kupperman’s lawyer Charles Cooper said he had “no dog” in fight between the House and President Trump.
“Absent a definitive judgement from the Judicial Branch ‘say[ing] what the law is’ […] Plaintiff will effectively be forced to adjudicate the Constitutional dispute himself, and if he judges wrongly, he will inflict grave Constitutional injury on either the House or the President,” Kupperman’s lawsuit last week read.
At Thursday’s brief hearing, U.S. District Judge Richard J. Leon asked Cooper whether the House impeachment resolution would affect his case. Cooper responded that he was still studying the effect of the resolution, which was approved by the House Thursday morning.
Leon set a Nov. 14 deadline for defendants’ briefs and a Dec. 4 deadline for plaintiffs’ responses. Oral arguments will take place Dec. 10 at 3 p.m. ET.
Cooper is also representing Bolton, which Leon noted Thursday. The House has requested that Bolton testify, but Cooper has indicated to reporters that Bolton would not testify voluntarily.
At Thursday’s hearing, Cooper wouldn’t say whether Bolton would similarly pursue a legal remedy if subpoenaed, but the lawyer assured Judge Leon that any additional plaintiffs to Kupperman’s case wouldn’t slow things down.
Later, per CNN, Leon called the lawsuit over Kupperman’s potential testimony a “matter of great public interest and a matter of great urgency for the country.”