The move raises the prospect that the House Oversight Committee could seek to hold Kline in contempt, a step that Chairman Elijah Cummings warned Monday he would take. And it’s the latest White House effort to stonewall Democratic investigations, coming the same day the Trump Organization filed a lawsuit to prevent an accounting firm from complying with Cummings’ subpoena for President Donald Trump’s past financial records.
Michael Purpura, deputy counsel to Trump, argued that Cummings’ subpoena of Kline “unconstitutionally encroaches on fundamental executive branch interests,” according to a letter obtained by CNN.
“With two masters from two equal branches of government, we will follow the instructions of the one that employs him,” Driscoll said in a separate letter obtained by CNN.
In a statement Tuesday, Cummings said the White House and Kline “now stand in open defiance of a duly authorized congressional subpoena with no assertion of any privilege of any kind by President Trump.”
“The White House claims that ‘under no circumstance’ will it provide to Congress any information about any specific White House employee — regardless of whether that employee lied to federal investigators about communicating with the Russians or continued working in the White House after the FBI reported derogatory information involving domestic violence.”
Cummings said he will consult with lawyers and committee members about “about scheduling a vote on contempt.”
The flurry of letters capped a day of tense talks ahead of Tuesday’s anticipated deposition with Kline, a key witness as part of Democrats’ probe into whether the White House mishandled the security clearance process for top officials, including for Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump.
The White House had contended that Kline would not answer questions about individuals’ security clearances but would talk more generally about the process — and pushed for an official from the White House counsel’s office to attend Tuesday’s interview, something rejected by Cummings, a Maryland Democrat.
In another letter obtained by CNN, Cummings said White House counsel Pat Cipollone previously informed the committee that Kline would not appear on Tuesday unless the committee allowed someone from the White House counsel’s office “to appear with Mr. Kline in order to preserve and protect Executive Branch confidentiality interests.”
Cummings responded Monday: “The Committee will not permit a representative from your office to attend the deposition,” adding that Kline would be held in contempt if he didn’t comply with the subpoena.
This story has been updated with additional developments Tuesday.
CNN’s Lauren Fox contributed to this report.