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Federal Judge Dismisses Former White House Aide's Lawsuit Over Congressional Subpoena

A federal judge said a lawsuit filed by former deputy national security adviser Charles Kupperman is moot. The decision on Monday comes as the House of Representatives had said it will not hold Kupperman in contempt.
J. Scott Applewhite

A federal judge on Monday dismissed a lawsuit by Charles Kupperman, a former aide to President Trump who had sought a ruling on whether he needed to comply with a subpoena from the House impeachment inquiry.

Kupperman was Trump's deputy national security adviser and briefly served as acting national security adviser. He listened to the president's July 25 call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy.

The White House had ordered him not to testify because "as a close presidential advisor, he was absolutely immune for compelled Congressional testimony," court documents say.

Kupperman, who has close ties to former national security adviser John Bolton, asked the court to rule on whether he should obey the White House or Congress.

He failed to appear to be interviewed in the impeachment inquiry in Washington on Oct. 28.

But the House later withdrew its subpoena, which made the matter moot, U.S. District Judge Richard Leon ruled.

"Kupperman no longer faces the 'irreconcilable commands' of two coordinated branches of government ... and he accordingly lacks any personal stake in the outcome of this dispute," Leon wrote.

In court filings, Kupperman had urged the judge to rule, arguing that the subpoena could be reissued and that he could be punished for failing to comply with that subpoena.

But Leon said the argument lacked merit because the House had "repeatedly and unequivocally" stated that it would not do so.

"To be perfectly clear yet again, the House Defendants will not reissue the subpoena to Kupperman, period," lawyers wrote in earlier court documents. "The subpoena will not reissue today, tomorrow, or ever."

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Vanessa Romo
Vanessa Romo is a reporter for NPR's News Desk. She covers breaking news on a wide range of topics, weighing in daily on everything from immigration and the treatment of migrant children, to a war-crimes trial where a witness claimed he was the actual killer, to an alleged sex cult. She has also covered the occasional cat-clinging-to-the-hood-of-a-car story.