House leaders threaten contempt if former White House official defies subpoena

House Democrats leading the impeachment inquiry into President TrumpDonald John TrumpThis week: House kicks off public phase of impeachment inquiry Impeachment week: Trump probe hits crucial point Judd Gregg: The big, big and bigger problem MORE late Saturday threatened contempt proceedings against a former White House deputy national security adviser if he fails to appear for a scheduled deposition Monday.

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam SchiffAdam Bennett SchiffImpeachment week: Trump probe hits crucial point This week: House kicks off public phase of impeachment inquiry Sunday shows — New impeachment phase dominates MORE (D-Calif.), acting Oversight and Reform Committee Chairwoman Carolyn MaloneyCarolyn Bosher MaloneyHouse Democrats pull subpoena for ex-Trump national security official House Democrats ask Mulvaney to testify in impeachment inquiry Republicans look to expand impeachment strategy amid release of transcripts MORE (D-N.Y.), and Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Eliot EngelEliot Lance EngelHouse Democrats pull subpoena for ex-Trump national security official House Democrats ask Mulvaney to testify in impeachment inquiry Republicans look to expand impeachment strategy amid release of transcripts MORE (D-N.Y.) said in a letter that Charles Kupperman’s lawsuit to prevent him from responding to a House subpoena was “without merit.”

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“Notwithstanding this attempted obstruction, the duly authorized subpoena remains in full force and Dr. Kupperman remains legally obligated to appear for the deposition on Monday,” their letter states. “The deposition will begin on time and, should your client defy the subpoena, his absence will constitute evidence that may be used against him in a contempt proceeding.”

“Such willful defiance of a duly authorized subpoena may cause the committees to draw an adverse inference against the president,” they added. “The White House’s overbroad assertion of ‘absolute immunity,’ at its core, is another example of the president’s stonewalling of Congress and concerted efforts to obstruct the House’s impeachment inquiry.”

On Friday, Kupperman asked a federal judge to rule on whether he must appear, saying he faced the “irreconcilable demands” of both the House subpoena and the White House’s announcement that it will not cooperate with the impeachment inquiry.

“Plaintiff obviously cannot satisfy the competing demands of both the legislative and executive branches, and he is aware of no controlling judicial authority definitively establishing which branch’s command should prevail,” his suit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia reads.

The White House has invoked constitutional immunity to prevent Kupperman from testifying, going beyond executive privilege and asserting the person in question cannot be compelled to testify before Congress or appear at a hearing.