The impeachment inquiry into Donald Trump could last weeks or even months longer than the House of Representatives would like it to, thanks to a court ruling handed down this week, Yahoo News reports.
The Trump administration has been attempting to stymie the impeachment inquiry on several different fronts, most notably by forbidding certain members of his administration from cooperating with the inquiry. A handful of those people have defied the orders and cooperated anyway, while others adhered to the orders and have not complied.
The House had hoped to force its hand by getting a judge to effectively compel the witnesses to testify. And in the case of one key witness, the matter has gone before a court.
Charles Kupperman had been, until recently, a key figure in the Trump administration, though he no longer works for the administration. House Democrats believe he could potentially be a crucial witness, because he was in on the July 25 phone call in which Trump called Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and asked him to investigate Joe Biden and his son, Hunter Biden, purportedly in exchange for hundreds of millions of dollars in military aid.
Kupperman was subpoenaed by the House, but White House legal counsel Pat Cipollone told him not to cooperate, citing “constitutional immunity.” Rather than decide for himself to testify before the House and defy the White House, or to abide by the White House and defy the House of Representatives, Kuppermann effectively asked the Washington, D.C. federal district court, in a case known as Kupperman v. House of Representatives, to decide for him.
"He was a no-show. This is deeply regrettable."-House Intel Chair Schiff on fmr dpty nat'l security advisor Charles Kupperman not testifying today at House impeachment inquiry."We will consider,his failure to appear as evidence that may warrant a contempt proceeding against him." pic.twitter.com/6Nhl98HZf4
— Craig Caplan (@CraigCaplan) October 28, 2019
In a Friday ruling, Judge Richard Leon gave both sides until December 10 to prepare arguments in the case and present them to him.
In deciding not to rule right away, that throws the timetable of the impeachment inquiry into disarray, in what could bode ill for Democrats. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has publicly indicated that there’s no specific timetable for the inquiry. However, she’s also said that she hopes to begin holding public hearings by December.
With the process now looking like it could take months, Democrats are now privately worried that Americans will be suffering from “impeachment fatigue” while at the same time preparing for a busy holiday season.
“People are nervous about not going public [with hearings] before Thanksgiving,” said one member of Congress, who asked not to be identified due to the sensitive nature of the issue.
As for Kupperman, his attorney, Charles Cooper, says that his client has no “dog in the merit fight” and intends to abide by the Constitution.