John Bolton was a no-show for his requested appearance before the House impeachment panel Thursday, but sources tell the Washington Post that if a court clears the way for him to appear, the former national security adviser is willing to defy the White House's order that he not do so. He would be the highest-ranking Trump administration official and the closest presidential adviser to testify so far. Bolton's lawyer has previously said he would not appear without being subpoenaed, and USA Today similarly reports he "may be waiting for the outcome of a court case challenging Congress' subpoenas in the Ukraine matter." It's not clear how soon such an outcome might be arrived at; the Post specifically notes a decision could come by the end of the month in "a key test case involving former White House counsel Donald McGahn," who is fighting his congressional subpoena in federal court.
Charles Kupperman, Bolton's deputy at the National Security Council, was also subpoenaed by House Democrats and sued to determine whether he must comply with that subpoena or with the White House's order not to appear, and last week his lawyer, who also represents Bolton, said Bolton would likely join Kupperman's lawsuit if he, too, was subpoenaed. But the House withdrew Kupperman's subpoena Wednesday and asked that his suit be dropped, with House lawyers saying that in the interest of speed they would rely on a ruling in the McGahn case. And a House Intelligence Committee official says the panel will not subpoena Bolton and delay the probe; rather, it would consider the White House barring him as "evidence of the president's obstruction of Congress." Other witnesses have characterized Bolton, who left his post in September, as a major critic of the plan to pressure Ukraine to open investigations benefiting Trump in the run-up to 2020. (Read more Trump impeachment stories.)