House Oversight Committee Chair Elijah Cummings is postponing holding a former White House official in contempt in the committee’s review of the Trump administration’s security clearance process.
Former official Carl Kline will instead appear before the committee for a transcribed interview on Wednesday after he did not comply with a subpoena for a deposition.
“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,” the Maryland Democrat wrote in a letter to Kline Saturday. “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.”
The White House on Monday had instructed Kline, who now works at the Defense Department, to defy a committee subpoena because Cummings would not allow a White House attorney to attend Kline’s deposition, citing committee rules.
Kline’s personal counsel and attorneys from the White House Counsel’s office will now be permitted to attend the interview.
“Carl and I will attend Wednesday voluntarily, as we have offered from the beginning. I hope the session is productive,” Robert Driscoll, Kline’s attorney, said in a statement.
Kline’s testimony has been of high interest for Democrats after a career White House official told committee investigators that Kline greenlighted security clearances for White House officials despite red flags raised in the vetting process.
The committee’s top Republican, Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan, sent a letter Friday asking White House counsel Pat Cipollone to allow Kline to sit down for a voluntary transcribed interview to avoid “unnecessary conflict” and “de-escalate Chairman Cummings’ orchestrated interbranch confrontation.”
Cipollone offered to make Kline available for an interview limited to questions regarding White House personnel security and practices consistent with past offers to the panel, which Cummings had previously rejected.
In his letter to Kline, Cummings, however, stressed that the interview would not be limited and that Kline will be expected to answer 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,” Cummings warned.
This story has been updated.
CNN’s Manu Raju contributed to this report.