April 24, 2019
Carl Kline—the former head of the White House Personnel Security Office who approved Jared Kushner’s security clearance after intelligence officials nixed it—has been instructed by the Trump administration not to comply with a House Oversight Committee subpoena demanding his appearance for an interview.
This is just the latest move by the president to stonewall Democratic-led investigations, CNN reports. After a day of tense negotiations, the White House late Monday, April 22, told Kline, who now works at the Defense Department, not to appear at the April 23 deposition—contending that Democrats were seeking access to confidential information that should be off limits, the cable news outlet said.
Michael Purpura, deputy counsel to Trump, argued that Cummings’ subpoena of Kline “unconstitutionally encroaches on fundamental executive branch interests,” according to a letter obtained by CNN.
Kline’s attorney, Robert Driscoll, said his client would listen to his employer .”With two masters from two equal branches of government, we will follow the instructions of the one that employs him,” Driscoll said in a separate letter obtained by CNN.
In response, the committee could seek to hold Kline in contempt—a step that Chairman Elijah Cummings (D-Maryland) warned Monday he would take.
A White House official, Tricia Newbold, told the committee several weeks ago that at least 25 individuals had been greenlighted for security clearances despite serious concerns raised during the vetting process—and alleged that Kline retaliated against her for speaking out as a whistleblower.
In another letter obtained by CNN, Cummings said White House counsel Pat Cipollone previously informed the committee that Kline would not appear on Tuesday unless the committee allowed someone from the White House counsel’s office “to appear with Mr. Kline in order to preserve and protect Executive Branch confidentiality interests.”
Cummings responded Monday: “The Committee will not permit a representative from your office to attend the deposition,” adding that Kline would be held in contempt if he didn’t comply with the subpoena.
Research contact: @NBCNews