(Bloomberg) -- A federal judge is taking a pass -- for now -- on deciding whether President Donald Trump’s former deputy national security advisor must comply with a congressional subpoena to testify at the impeachment hearings.Charles Kupperman, who served under John Bolton, sued Trump and House Democrats in October seeking a ruling on whether the president’s order for him to ignore the subpoena was legal. The president claims to have absolute power to decide whether his advisers can testify.The House ultimately withdrew its subpoena, and the Justice Department said it wouldn’t go after Kupperman for flouting it, making the dispute moot, U.S. District Judge Richard Leon in Washington said Monday in dismissing the case.“Kupperman no longer faces the ‘irreconcilable commands’ of two coordinate branches of government,” Leon wrote in a 14-page decision.The Democrats never issued a subpoena to Bolton, who was forced out of his job in September, even though testimony in the impeachment inquiry suggested he was opposed to the president’s efforts to force Ukraine to investigate Trump’s political rival Joe Biden.Read More: Ex-Trump Adviser Bolton Asked to Testify in Impeachment InquiryLeon balked at the claim that even though the House had withdrawn the subpoena, Kupperman could still face criminal prosecution for ignoring it. The judge noted that the Justice Department had guaranteed it wouldn’t take legal action against Kupperman. He suggested he’d hear the case again “should the winds of political fortune shift” and the House reissues the subpoena.“If so, he will undoubtedly be right back before this court seeking a solution to a constitutional dilemma that has long-standing political consequences: balancing Congress’s well-established power to investigate with a president’s need to have a small group of national security advisors who have some form of immunity from compelled congressional testimony,” Leon wrote.Kupperman had said in his complaint that he faced “irreconcilable commands” -- a subpoena from House Democrats requiring him to cooperate and an order from the White House not to testify.The case is Kupperman v. House of Representatives, 19-cv-3224, U.S. District Court, District of Columbia (Washington).(Updates with details starting in fifth paragraph)To contact the reporter on this story: Erik Larson in New York at firstname.lastname@example.orgTo contact the editors responsible for this story: David Glovin at email@example.com, Peter Jeffrey, Anthony LinFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
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