Former Trump official balks at Mulvaney's bid to join impeachment testimony lawsuit

Mick Mulvaney
Acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney skipped a scheduled deposition last week before the House committees leading the impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump, despite receiving subpoena to compel his attendance. Copyright Manuel Balce Ceneta AP
By Pete Williams with NBC News Politics
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Lawyers for Charles Kupperman and the House Intelligence Committee told the judge that the acting White House chief of staff to file his own case.


WASHINGTON — A former Trump administration official and lawyers for the House Intelligence Committee urged a federal judge Monday to blockMick Mulvaney, the acting White House chief of staff, from joining an existing lawsuit over a subpoena to testify in the House impeachment inquiry.

Mulvaney sought to intervene in a suit filed late last month by Charles Kupperman, President Donald Trump's former deputy national security adviser, that named both the House and Trump as defendants. Faced with a subpoena to testify before the House and also a letter from the White House counsel instructing him not to do so, Kupperman asked a federal court to rule which command he should obey.

Last week, the House withdrew the subpoena and urged the judge to dismiss the lawsuit as moot. But before Federal District Court Judge Richard Leon ruled on that, Mulvaney asked to intervene in the suit, arguing that he, too, faced the same dilemma. But in seeking to join the case, Mulvaney put himself in the odd position of suing his own boss, even though he claimed to be challenging only the House subpoena.

Both Kupperman and the House told the judge that Mulvaney should file his own case. Kupperman's lawyers said Kupperman didn't care which way the judge ruled on whether he should have to comply with a congressional subpoena or should obey the White House order to disregard it. By contrast, they said, Mulvaney has made it clear he wants the judge to rule against the House.

By publicly saying there was a quid pro quo in the phone call, Mulvaney might have already waived, or given up, any claim he has to immunity from the subpoena, Kupperman's lawyers argued. They added that allowing Mulvaney into the case could bog it down in new issues that would drag the case out, when it was likely to be dismissed because the House withdraw Kupperman's subpoena.

Judge Leon scheduled a 5 p.m. ET telephone conference call to hear Mulvaney's request to get in on the lawsuit. Because the federal courts are closed for Veterans Day, it was not clear how journalists could cover the hearing. Several news organizations filed an emergency motion late Monday urging the judge to provide some means to listen in on the conference call.

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