Nov 26, 2019

Bolton's lawyer says McGahn ruling does not apply to national security officials

Photo: Sergei Gapon/AFP via Getty Images

Charles Cooper, an attorney who represents former national security adviser John Bolton and his deputy Charles Kupperman, argued Tuesday that a ruling that found former White House counsel Don McGahn must comply with a congressional subpoena does not apply to national security officials.

Why it matters: House Democrats had hoped that Bolton and other officials may use the ruling, which is being appealed, to justify cooperating with the impeachment inquiry.

The big picture: Cooper argues that because Democrats in the McGahn lawsuit emphasized they were not seeking testimony involving "the sensitive topics of national security or foreign affairs," the ruling is not authoritative on the "validity of testimonial immunity" for national security advisers to the president.

  • He adds that Kupperman will continue to pursue his own lawsuit to seek an "authoritative and binding judicial ruling" on whether to comply with a House subpoena or an order from the White House.
  • It could be months until the lawsuit is resolved, however, and Democrats have signaled that they will not wait for the case to play out in the courts before concluding the impeachment inquiry.
  • Worth noting: Cooper's statement never explicitly mentions Bolton by name.

What he's saying:

"In McGahn, the House Judiciary Committee emphasized to the district court that the information it sought from Mr. McGahn “did not involve the sensitive topics of national security or foreign affairs.” Therefore, any passing references in the McGahn decision (instead of court’s opinion) to Presidential communications concerning national security matters are not authoritative on the validity of testimonial immunity for close White House advisors, like Dr. Kupperman, whose responsibilities are focused exclusively on providing information and advice to the President on national security."

Go deeper: Judge rejects White House theory of "absolute immunity" from congressional subpoenas

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McGahn appeals ruling ordering him to comply with House impeachment subpoena

Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

A federal judge ruled Monday that former White House counsel Don McGahn must testify under subpoena in the ongoing House impeachment inquiry, rejecting the White House's assertion that its aides are "absolutely immune" from congressional subpoenas. McGahn and the Justice Department appealed the ruling on Tuesday.

"When DOJ insists that Presidents can lawfully prevent their senior-level aides from responding to compelled congressional process and that neither the federal courts nor Congress has the power to do anything about it, DOJ promotes a conception of separation-of-powers principles that gets these constitutional commands exactly backwards. In reality, it is a core tenet of this Nation’s founding that the powers of a monarch must be split between the branches of the government to prevent tyranny."
— Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson
Go deeperArrowUpdated Nov 26, 2019

The state of play on impeachment for Thanksgiving week

Photo: Michael Brochstein/Echoes Wire/Barcroft Media via Getty Images

The shortened Thanksgiving week promises far less public spectacle for the House impeachment inquiry, but it still could see several significant events.

Driving the news: A ruling is expected Monday on whether or not former White House counsel Don McGahn must testify under subpoena in the ongoing House impeachment inquiry.

Go deeperArrowNov 25, 2019

Trump responds to McGahn decision by claiming he wants witnesses to testify

President Trump tweeted Tuesday that the media is "reading far too much" into Monday's decision by a federal judge that would force former White House counsel Don McGahn to testify in the House impeachment inquiry.

Why it matters: Though the decision is being appealed, the judge rejected in harsh terms the argument that White House aides are "absolutely immune" from congressional subpoenas, blasting the theory as "exactly backwards" in terms of the principles of separation of powers.

Go deeperArrowNov 26, 2019