April 23 (UPI) -- House oversight Chairman Elijah Cummings said he's planning a vote to hold former White House security clearance official Carl Kline in contempt after he refused to answer questions during a Tuesday hearing.
Cummings, D-Md., said the White House ordered Kline not to appear for the hearing despite a subpoena from the Committee on Oversight and Reform. The panel sought to question Kline in connection to the clearances of former national security adviser Michael Flynn, his son, Michael Flynn Jr., and White House adviser Jared Kushner.
Cummings accused the White House and Kline of standing "in open defiance" of the congressional subpoena.
"Based on these actions, it appears that the president believes that the Constitution does not apply to his White House, that he may order officials at will to violate their legal obligations, and that he may obstruct attempts by Congress to conduct oversight," Cummings said.
"It also appears that the White House believes that it may dictate to Congress -- an independent and co-equal branch of government -- the scope of its investigations and even the rules by which it conducts them."
Cummings said President Donald Trump has refused to produce any documentation or witnesses requested as part of the committee's investigations this year.
In January, Cummings sent a letter to the White House seeking information about the security clearance process. He re-sent the request in March after The New York Times reported that Trump intervened to get Kushner, his son-in-law, a security clearance over the objections of top security officials. The report said the president ordered his then-chief of staff, John Kelly, to grant the clearance.
The March subpoena came after whistle-blower Tricia Newbold, the adjudications manager of the Personnel Security Office, said the White House overturned 25 denied applications. In her position, Newbold handles security clearance determinations for senior White House staff members.
Cummings said she was interviewed by the committee and told lawmakers she and other office officials adjudicated the denials of dozens of applications that were later overturned. As a result, she warned that security clearance applications for White House officials "were not always adjudicated in the best interest of national security."