Ex-Trump national security aide Kupperman a no-show for impeachment testimony

WASHINGTON — Former deputy national security adviser Charles Kupperman will not appear for a scheduled deposition Monday before three House congressional committees involved in leading the impeachment inquiry against President Donald Trump, congressional leaders said Monday.

The White House is trying to block his appearance, and Kupperman, who worked under former national security adviser John Bolton, filed a lawsuit Friday asking a federal judge to rule on whether he must testify under a congressional subpoena.

House Oversight Committee ranking member Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, told reporters on Capitol Hill on Monday that Kupperman will wait to testify until the judge rules on the subpoena.

Speaking to reporters moments later, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., told reporters it was "deeply regrettable" that Kupperman was a "no-show."

"He was compelled to appear with a lawful congressional subpoena," Schiff said. "Witnesses like Dr. Kupperman need to do their duty and show up."

Kupperman's refusal to appear "may warrant a contempt proceeding against him," he added.

"I think we can infer from the White House opposition to Dr. Kupperman's testimony that they believe that his testimony would be incriminating of the president," Schiff said. "It is also, I think, very plain additional and powerful evidence of obstruction of Congress and its lawful function, by the president, that yet again, and even after a court decision affirming the right of Congress to proceed with this impeachment inquiry, the White House has obstructed the work of a co-equal branch of government."

Three Democratic committee chairs alleged in a letter to Kupperman's lawyer on Saturday that the ex-deputy national security adviser was simply trying to delay the deposition.

RELATED: Rep. Adam Schiff

Rep. Adam Schiff
See Gallery
Rep. Adam Schiff
U.S. House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence ranking member Representative Adam Schiff (D-CA) speaks with reporters at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, U.S., March 24, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
House Select Committee on Intelligence Chairman Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) and Ranking Member Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) speak with the media about the ongoing Russia investigation on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., U.S. March 15, 2017. REUTERS/Aaron P. Bernstein
House Intelligence Committee ranking Democrat Adam Schiff (D-CA) reacts to Committee Chairman Devin Nunes statements about surveillance of U.S. President Trump and his staff as well as his visit to the White House, during a news conference at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, U.S., March 22, 2017. REUTERS/Jim Bourg
U.S. Congressman Adam Schiff (D-CA) speaks at a town hall meeting on healthcare reform in Alhambra, California, August 11, 2009. REUTERS/Danny Moloshok (UNITED STATES HEALTH POLITICS)
Ranking member Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) and chairman Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) (R) speak during the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence hearing on Russian actions during the 2016 election campaign on March 20, 2017 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. / AFP PHOTO / Mandel Ngan (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
MEET THE PRESS -- Pictured: (l-r) Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) appears on 'Meet the Press' in Washington, D.C., Sunday, March 19, 2017. (Photo by: William B. Plowman/NBC/NBC NewsWire via Getty Images)
Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) speaks during a news conference discussing Russian sanctions on Capitol Hill February 15, 2017 in Washington, DC. / AFP / ZACH GIBSON (Photo credit should read ZACH GIBSON/AFP/Getty Images)
HOLLYWOOD, CA - NOVEMBER 27: Adam Schiff arrives at the 85th Annual Hollywood Christmas Parade on November 27, 2016 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Tara Ziemba/WireImage)
GLENDALE, CA - OCTOBER 07: Congressman Adam Schiff poses with guests at the HAAS Spine And Orthopaedics Official Opening Reception held at HAAS Spine & Orthopaedics Center on October 7, 2016 in Glendale, California. (Photo by Albert L. Ortega/Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - JULY 27: Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., speaks at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia on Wednesday, July 27, 2016. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
UNITED STATES - JULY 25: Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., walks through the crowd on the floor of the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia on Monday, July 25, 2016. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

In the letter, Schiff, Foreign Affairs Chairman Eliot Engel, D-N.Y., and House Oversight Chairwoman Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y., said Kupperman's lawsuit was "lacking in legal merit" and alleged that it was "apparently coordinated with the White House."

They called the suit "an obvious and desperate tactic by the President to delay and obstruct the lawful constitutional functions of Congress and conceal evidence about his conduct from the impeachment inquiry" and said that a failure to cooperate with the subpoena would give greater weight to the obstruction case against the president.

Kupperman, a longtime associate of Bolton, has emerged as a key witness in the impeachment inquiry. House investigators believe he has firsthand knowledge of Trump's decisions regarding Ukraine.

Kupperman’s attorney responded late Saturday in a letter obtained by NBC News that said "it would not be appropriate for a private citizen like Dr. Kupperman to unilaterally resolve this momentous Constitutional dispute between the two political branches of our government."

Bolton told former White House official Fiona Hill that he wanted no part of Trump's effort to get Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden as well as what has been described as a conspiracy theory involving the 2016 election, Hill told congressional investigators earlier this month, NBC News previously reported. Hill added that Bolton told her to report the situation to the top lawyer at the National Security Council.

Read Full Story