Cummings Schedules Interview with White House Security Director
Washington, D.C. (Apr. 27, 2019)—Today, Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, the Chairman of the Committee on Oversight and Reform, sent a letter to former White House Personnel Security Director Carl Kline scheduling a transcribed interview for this coming Wednesday as part of the Committee’s investigation into White House security clearances. Kline failed to show up last week for a deposition pursuant to a subpoena issued by the Committee.
“Your refusal to participate in a deposition last Tuesday pursuant to a duly authorized subpoena from this Committee is a very serious matter that places you in significant legal jeopardy,” wrote Cummings. “Your actions are particularly egregious because you did not even appear before the Committee as the subpoena directed. I understand that the White House ordered you not to appear, but that is not a valid legal reason to defy a congressional subpoena. The President asserted no Constitutional privilege and has not relieved you of the legal requirement the subpoena imposed. Despite the President’s indiscriminate vow to keep ‘fighting all the subpoenas’—untethered from any legal rationale—you have your own obligation to comply.”
On Friday, Ranking Member Jim Jordan and White House Counsel Pat Cipollone exchanged letters indicating that Kline would be willing to participate in a voluntary interview. However, they tried to limit the scope of the interview to exclude all questions about the specific White House officials’ cases and all questions about allegations that Kline retaliated against a White House whistleblower who provided significant information to the Committee.
“Based on the record before us, I am confident that the Committee could move forward with contempt against you immediately, particularly since your defiance of the Committee’s subpoena was so flagrant,” Cummings wrote. “However, I have always endeavored to be as fair as possible in the pursuit of truth, particularly with witnesses who are willing to come before the Committee.”
Cummings set the voluntary interview for Wednesday at 10 a.m., but he made clear that the scope of the interview would not be limited by Jordan and the White House.
“The Committee sets the scope of its interviews and depositions—not Rep. Jordan and the President’s other defense counsels” Cummings concluded. “You will be expected to answer all of the Committee’s questions, including questions about specific White House officials and allegations of retaliation against the whistleblower. If you answer all of these questions, there would be no need for the Committee to pursue contempt against you in the future. This burden rests squarely with you, with the advice of your personal counsel, and not with White House attorneys who may direct you to disregard the Committee’s questions without an assertion of privilege.”