House Intelligence Committee Chairman, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), said on Monday that his committee is ready to charge a key witness in their impeachment investigation with contempt after he defied a subpoena and failed to show up at the Capitol Monday morning.
Schiff said the lawsuit filed by Charles Kupperman, a deputy to former national security adviser John Bolton, questioning his obligation to appear before Congress “has no basis in law” since Kupperman is now a private citizen.
Schiff said Democrats will forge ahead with their impeachment investigation, vowing not to let the White House bog their investigation down in the courts.
“This is deeply regrettable. He was compelled to appear by a lawful congressional subpoena,” Schiff told reporters. “Witnesses like Dr. Kupperman need to do their duty and show up.”
“A private citizen cannot sue the Congress to try to avoid coming in when they’re served with a lawful subpoena. And we expect that the court will make short shrift of that argument. But nonetheless we move forward.”
Schiff, joined by the Democratic chairs of the Oversight and Foreign Affairs committees, had threatened in a letter Saturday that if Kupperman did not appear on Monday, they might hold him in contempt.
“Dr. Kupperman had testimony we believe would corroborate the allegations of misconduct that other witnesses have made,” Schiff said. “But we move forward, and we will obviously consider — as we inform Dr. Kupperman’s counsel — his failure to appear as evidence that may warrant the contempt proceeding against him.”
The Wall Street Journal has reported that Kupperman was on the July 25 phone call between President Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, in which Trump pressed Zelensky to launch an anti-corruption investigation into former Vice President Joe Biden, a leading Democratic contender in the 2020 presidential contest.
Kupperman’s refusal is likely to create a hiccup for Democrats who are seeking to draw in witnesses like Kupperman and Bolton as they seek to get corroboration from individuals who served closely to the commander-in-chief.
But Democrats publicly refused to describe this as a blow, saying they will push ahead regardless.
“The investigation is overwhelmingly successful until this point. We have tremendous momentum and we are getting the information we need,” said Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.), a constitutional lawyer who serves on the House Oversight and Reform Committee.