A former White House security officer has denied he was under pressure from Trump administration superiors to approve security clearances, according to reports of his interview with Congressional investigators earlier this week.
His comments are a response to charges levied by Tricia Newbold, a White House staffer who in March reported security clearance problems to Congress. White House officials overruled security staff and granted clearances to 25 employees, she told the House committee.
Carl Kline, the former director of the White House’s Personnel Security Office, told the House Oversight and Reform Committee this week that he had overruled the recommendations of his staff and approved security clearances for White House officials on his own authority, and denied that President Trump or anyone else had directed him to do it.
The Hill quotes House Oversight and Reform Committee Chairman Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) saying that White House had barred Kline from answering questions about the security clearances of Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump during a closed-door interview this week.
“They wouldn’t touch it,” Cummings told reporters on Thursday. “And that’s one of the reasons we were so concerned about having the White House counsel there. Whenever there was any mention of Ivanka or any mention of Mr. Kushner, he shut him down.”
Kline was questioned at a closed-door meeting after a month of back and forth over whether he would comply with a committee subpoena.
Reuters reported that White House Counsel Pat Cipollone said Kline had agreed to the committee interview despite the subpoena. In a letter to Cummings, he said Kline was not authorized to testify about individual clearances.
The case was the subject of a Thursday report on the Fox News program “The Ingraham Angle.” Host Laura Ingraham described the case as “a career civil servant being smeared and the existence of what they are calling a whistleblower,” using air quotes for the word “whistleblower.” Ingraham had interviewed Kline’s lawyer in April.
After a report on the case, Ingraham said Newbold “seems like a disgruntled employee.” She called media reports on the case “complete bunk.”