A former White House official who allegedly retaliated against a whistleblower is refusing to appear before the House Oversight Committee, citing an order from the White House not to comply with a congressional subpoena.
“With two masters from two equal branches of government, we will follow the instructions of the one that employs him,” reads an April 22 letter to Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD) from an attorney for former White House personnel security director Carl Kline.
Kline attorney Robert Driscoll cites a letter he received from White House deputy counsel Michael Purpura.
The letter states that the White House demands that a representative from the Office of Counsel to the President attend the meeting. The Committee is purportedly forbidding any representative from the White House to attend.
“Because this proposed action by the Committee unconstitutionally encroaches on fundamental Executive Branch interests, on April 18, 2019, the White House informed the Committee that Mr. Kline would be instructed not to appear on April 23, 2019 unless the Committee will allow a representative of the Office of Counsel to the President to attend,” the letter reads.
Purpura adds in the letter that the Justice Department “is aware of and concurs with” the position that Kline can only appear if a White House attorney is present.
In the letter to Cummings, Driscoll wrote that “this decision is not made lightly and does not come from any ill will or deliberate defiance on my part or that of my client.”
Kline is accused of retaliating against an employee who raised concerns that the White House was issuing to security clearances for reasons of nepotism and was overturning security clearance rejections made by career-level staff.
The whistleblower, Tricia Newbold, has dwarfism. Kline allegedly placed files out of her reach as a form of retaliation.
Presidential son-in-law Jared Kushner is reportedly among those whose clearances were overturned by Kline, a political appointee.