The lawsuit was filed by former Bolton MP Charles Kupperman, who asks a federal judge to determine whether a subpoena to Congress takes precedence over a White House order not to proceed with the investigation. . Bolton is willing to testify if the judge ruled in favor of the House, the Washington Post reported.
Relatives of Bolton and Kupperman said that Mulvaney's surprise request to join the court process had shaken both men.
Their objection is twofold: Bolton sees Mulvaney as a key player in the lobbying campaign, a situation that the then national security advisor described as a "drug deal" derisively, according to the testimony of his aides in Congress. According to White House officials, the two men were barely talking when Bolton left his post in September.
And they believe that Mulvaney's goal is to avoid testifying by joining a prosecution involving officials whose attorney claimed they could be limited in what they could share with Congress because of their role advising the President on matters of national security.
Bolton's lawyer, Charles Cooper, declined to comment on Mulvaney's efforts to join the case, saying: "We will provide our response to the court."
William Pittard, Mulvaney's lawyer, said the chief of staff was simply trying to resolve the conflicting demands of two branches of government.
"As Acting Chief of Staff, Mr. Mulvaney intends to follow the order of the President and has no reason to believe that the order in question is unlawful – to part of the fact that the House has threatened him with charges of contempt and obstruction for having that, he says.
Pittard said his client was also facing national security problems in Ukraine. "All that we would ask Mr. Mulvaney would fall into the same space of foreign relations in matters of national security" that would affect Bolton and Kupperman, he said.
Laurence Tribe, a constitutional law expert at Harvard Law School, said Mulvaney's last-minute decision could be an attempt to legally protect herself from deferring the House's request. By joining the Kupperman case, Mulvaney could avoid having to testify for months at the inquest of Parliament if the trial was appealed to the Supreme Court.
"I think he's trying to protect himself from the obligation to obey his legal duty to comply with a manifestly valid subpoena," Tribe said.
Bolton and Mulvaney are key potential witnesses to the House's imputation inquiry, but they have so far refused to respond to their requests to testify because of the White House's assertions that Senior advisers enjoy "absolute immunity" from cooperating with the congressional investigation.
Trump has repeatedly urged his collaborators not to cooperate and has been one of the key writers of a long letter from the White House describing the process, officials said.
Mulvaney had previously indicated that he would follow the instructions of the president and not show up at the hearings. Its principal collaborators also rejected the Chamber's requests for testimony.
The legal deposit Friday by the Acting Chief of Staff marks a change in his approach to the investigation. Mulvaney is now trying to join a lawsuit filed by officials who said they would challenge the White House and testify before Congress if the order was imposed on them.
By going to court, Mulvaney appears to have acted on his own by hiring a private lawyer to intervene in the lawsuit. Generally speaking, the White House Council Office and the Department of Justice deal with the legal issues surrounding the White House Chief of Staff.
The White House has not responded to a request for comment.
Pittard said that Mulvaney's lawsuit was necessary to obtain clarification from the courts, while he is confronted with a White House order to not comply with it. and threats of contempt in the House.
"He's really caught between two contradictory orders," said Pittard. "He intends to follow the orders of his boss, the president, but this has resulted in threats from the House. Asking the court to resolve a real conflict like this is by no means unreasonable. "
Pittard said that White House lawyer Pat Cipollone had been consulted before Mulvaney went to court and raised no objection. Pittard added that Mulvaney's legal deposit made it clear that his action was directed at the House and not the Speaker.
"This is not contradictory to the President, and in no way indicates a distance between Mr. Mulvaney and the President," said a close friend of Mulvaney, who spoke under the guise of the president. anonymity to describe his thought.
However, the lawsuit Mulvaney seeks to join is the accused of the president and House leaders.
The unusual legal maneuver highlights a growing gap between Trump's key advisers as investigators of the Chamber's dismissal continue to gather evidence of efforts to pressurize Ukraine for it. investigates his political opponents.
Mulvaney acknowledged having blocked the release of nearly $ 400 million in military aid to Ukraine at the request of the president. At a press conference in October, Mr Mulvaney said that he had suspended his aid because of the interest shown by the president for Ukraine to investigate a discredited theory. according to which Ukrainians intervened in the 2016 campaign. Mulvaney later said that his comments had been misinterpreted.
If Bolton is called to testify, he should corroborate the accounts of former collaborators – such as Lt. Col. Alexander S. Vindman and Councilor Fiona Hill – who testified that Bolton was alarmed by the fact that he was in danger. military aid had been withheld from Ukraine as president. and his collaborators pushed this country to open investigations likely to harm the Democrats.
In a letter to House Democrats on Friday, Cooper stated that Bolton was "personally involved in many of the events, meetings and conversations about which you have already heard testimony, as well as in many relevant meetings and conversations that have not occurred. Have not yet been addressed in the testimonials so far. "
Congressional investigators have not yet summoned Bolton, although they have requested to appear, but Cooper has said he will refuse his candidacy without summoning or hearing from the courts.
In his letter of Friday, Cooper pointed out that the testimony of Bolton and Kupperman was particularly important and sensitive because of their role in national security.
"National security and foreign affairs information is at the heart of the committee imputation survey, and it is hard to imagine a question that committees could ask Mr. Kupperman without addressing these sensitive areas. He wrote.
Kupperman and Bolton could benefit from a special immunity of testimony because they are part of an "extremely narrow class of assistants with discretionary powers in such delicate areas as national security or security." foreign policy ".
Mulvaney's lawsuit could breathe new life into Kupperman's lawsuit after the House's lawyers withdrew their summons last week and asked for the case to be dropped. Instead, the House said it would consider another case involving former White House lawyer Donald McGahn, who is more advanced, as a key test.
However, US District Judge Richard Leon declined to dismiss the Kupperman case. Late Saturday afternoon, Leon ordered Mulvaney, Kupperman, Bolton and government lawyers to join him on a conference call Monday afternoon to discuss Mulvaney's request and the march to to follow.