The Chairman of the House Oversight Committee threatened Tuesday to hold the former head of personnel security at the White House in contempt of Congress, after Carl Kline refused to honor a subpoena for his testimony on Capitol Hill, as Democrats press to find out why Kline approved a top secret clearance for the President's son-in-law, despite security questions raised by a whistle blower.
"The White House and Mr. Kline now stand in open defiance of a duly authorized congressional subpoena with no assertion of any privilege of any kind by President Trump," said Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD) in a statement.
"Based on these actions, it appears that the President believes that the Constitution does not apply to his White House," Cummings added.
Kline - who now works at the Pentagon - was scheduled for a 9 am deposition behind closed doors, but his attorney made clear that Kline would not appear.
Tensions ratcheting up between White House and House Democrats. MD Rep. Elijah Cummings, chair of the Oversight Committtee, says he's considering a vote on contempt for former WH official Carl Kline. WH told him not attend today's scheduled deposition on security clearances.— Mitchell Miller (@mmillerwtop) April 23, 2019
CUMMINGS: "I hope that Mr. Kline, in close consultation with his personal attorney, will carefully review his legal obligations, reconsider his refusal to appear, and begin cooperating with the Committee's investigation."— Frank Thorp V (@frankthorp) April 23, 2019
Democrats want testimony from Kline to explore the accusations of Tricia Newbold, a whistle blower from inside the White House, who accused supervisors of allowing top security clearances to go to Jared Kushner and others, even though they had been rejected because of red flags found in background checks.
In testimony to the Oversight Committee, which was released on April 1, Newbold told investigators she was going public because of her concerns that the security clearance process had become politicized inside the Trump White House.
“I want it known that this is a systematic, it’s an office issue, and we’re not a political office, but these decisions were being continuously overrode,” Newbold told Democrats on the Oversight Committee.
Newbold also claims that Kline retaliated against her for raising concerns about why certain security clearance objections had been overruled during the Trump Administration.
Following her raising national security concerns, Tricia Newbold claims her supervisor began to humiliate her -- she has a rare form of dwarfism.— Tim Mak (@timkmak) April 1, 2019
"Mr. Kline repeatedly altered her office environment... such as physically elevating personnel security files out of her reach."
Even if Democrats were to find Kline in contempt of Congress, it would not guarantee any punishment, as the Justice Department is not required to prosecute such cases.
But the dispute is emblematic of the broader tussle involving Democrats the Trump White House.
"To date, the White House has refused to produce a single piece of paper or a single witness in any of the Committee’s investigations this entire year," Rep. Cummings complained.
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