WASHINGTON — John Bolton’s attorney suggested Tuesday that a court order directing former White House counsel Don McGahn to appear before Congress has no bearing on whether his client and another ex-national security official he represents will testify.
The statement from attorney Charles Cooper aimed to blunt public speculation that the judge’s order in the McGahn case could influence the actions of his own clients or halt a lawsuit from one of them challenging a subpoena in the House impeachment inquiry.
Cooper’s comments followed a judge’s ruling in a separate case Monday requiring McGahn to comply with a subpoena related to special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation. The judge, Ketanji Brown Jackson, wrote that not even the Republican president’s closest aides who receive subpoenas from Congress can “ignore or defy congressional compulsory process, by order of the President or otherwise.”
The House Judiciary Committee sought to speak with McGahn, a star witness in Mueller’s obstruction of justice investigation, months before the current impeachment inquiry centered on the president’s interactions with Ukraine. But the outcome nonetheless could lead to renewed efforts by House Democrats to compel testimony from other high-ranking officials in the impeachment probe, making it harder for those officials to argue that they are immune from congressional questioning.
Cooper said Tuesday that former deputy national security adviser Charles Kupperman would continue to pursue his lawsuit in Washington’s federal court.
That lawsuit asks a judge to decide whether he must comply with a congressional subpoena in the House impeachment inquiry or abide by White House instructions that he not appear. The order for McGahn does not affect Kupperman’s case since Kupperman’s advice to the president exclusively concerns sensitive matters of national security, Cooper said.
“Therefore, any passing references in the McGahn decision to Presidential communications concerning national security matters are not authoritative on the validity of testimonial immunity for close White House advisers, like Dr. Kupperman, whose responsibilities are focused exclusively on providing information and advice to the President on national security,” Cooper said.
Both the White House and Congress have asked a judge to dismiss Kupperman’s lawsuit, saying it is moot since the subpoena for his testimony has been withdrawn. Kupperman is scheduled to respond to that motion on Wednesday.
The statement from Cooper did not explicitly mention Bolton, but the attorney has previously said that Bolton could be added to the lawsuit. Bolton has not been subpoenaed and will not testify without receiving one, Cooper has previously said.