The House Intelligence committee did not issue a subpoena to John Bolton after his attorney threatened to go to court to fight if it was issued, according to a House Intelligence Committee official.
“We would welcome John Bolton’s deposition and he did not appear as he was requested today. His counsel has informed us that unlike three other dedicated public servants who worked for him on the NSC and have complied with lawful subpoenas, Mr. Bolton would take us to court if we subpoenaed him,” the official said in a statement provided to CNN.
The official continued, “We regret Mr. Bolton’s decision not to appear voluntarily, but we have no interest in allowing the administration to play rope-a-dope with us in the courts for months. Rather, the White House instruction that he not appear will add to the evidence of the President’s obstruction of Congress.”
The decision not to subpoena Bolton signals how Democrats are moving forward with their impeachment inquiry without officials like Bolton who have either defied subpoenas or signaled an unwillingness to testify voluntarily.
Should the fight over Bolton’s testimony go to court, it would likely lead to a prolonged process that would extend beyond the House impeachment efforts, which they are looking to wrap up before the end of the year. Therefore, any court decision that would allow Bolton to testify would likely come too late for the Democrats’ timeline.
Bolton’s attorney Charles Cooper is currently entangled with the House in court over whether another client of his, Charles Kupperman, must testify before the House. The White House blocked Kupperman, Trump’s former deputy national security adviser, with similar reasons it used for preventing testimony from former White House counsel Don McGahn and other top White House officials.
The House has tried to get out of the newer case that ties up Kupperman’s subpoena in court – and could potentially do the same for Bolton’s testimony. The House retracted its subpoena to Kupperman this week, and that’s part of the reason why the House hasn’t subpoenaed Bolton: to avoid the start of yet another court battle.
House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi have said that officials who do not testify are only adding to Democrats’ case that the Trump administration is obstructing Congress, which could be written into the potential articles of impeachment.
This story has been updated with additional developments Thursday.