White House Counsel: Official Who Cleared Jared Kushner Agrees to Hill Interview
After Trump ally Jim Jordan stepped in and said he could be interviewed with White House lawyers present.
Carl Kline, the official who green-lit Jared Kushner’s security clearance, has agreed to attend a voluntary interview next week with staff for the House Committee on Oversight and Reform, according to a letter from White House Counsel Pat Cipollone.
The letter, which The Daily Beast obtained, comes at the end of a week of fervid clashes between Chairman Elijah Cummings; Carl Kline, the career official who approved Kushner’s security clearance over the objections of other career officials; and the White House Counsel’s office.
Cummings subpoenaed Kline on April 2 for an interview with his committee staff. Kline and the White House agreed that he would not attend if he couldn’t bring lawyers from the White House Counsel’s office, arguing that the interview could involve material potentially covered by executive privilege. Cummings’ team told Kline he could not bring lawyers from that office, so Kline and the White House decided he would not go to the interview.
Cummings subsequently moved to hold Kline in contempt, paving the way to make him the first official held in contempt under the newly Democratic-controlled Congress.
That’s when Jordan, the top Republican on the committee and a White House ally, stepped in. Earlier on Friday, he wrote a letter to Kline inviting him to come in for a voluntary interview, with White House lawyers on hand. Jordan said the invitation was meant to “avoid unnecessary conflict” and “de-escalate Chairman Cummings' orchestrated interbranch confrontation.”
Cipollone quickly took Jordan up on his offer—though he said there will be some restrictions. The interview will be “limited to White House personnel security policy and practices,” Cipollone said in the letter. The interview is scheduled for May 1, according to Cipollone’s letter.
A spokesperson for Cummings did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
A spokesperson for Jordan said he was happy to receive the letter.
The question of how Kushner got a security clearance has become a flashpoint for Democrats, and has drawn significant public attention. Tricia Newbold, a career official who initially blocked Kushner from getting a clearance, has shared detailed information with the committee about the process, along with the issuance of numerous other clearances which she said should not have been granted. Committee staff characterized Newbold as saying that clearances had been issued–despite objections–to people with “a wide range of serious disqualifying issues involving foreign influence, conflicts of interest, concerning personal conduct, financial problems, drug use, and criminal conduct.”