Democrats on the committee also criticized Mr. Kline for eliminating credit checks during the security clearance process, but he stood by the policy, according to two people with knowledge of his testimony, confirming details first reported in Politico.
Republicans, for their part, accused Democrats of creating a political stunt to slander the White House. Mr. Kline, for his part, told the panel that his character had been “assassinated” in the news media.
“The Democrats used just one witness, Trish Newbold, to pretend they did an investigation and to slander the White House by raising false alarms about our national security,” Representative Jim Jordan of Ohio and the committee’s ranking Republican, said in a statement. “We’ve now heard from Mr. Kline and learned that neither the president, the chief of staff, nor any other White House official attempted to influence his decisions with respect to any security clearance application.”
Ms. Newbold, who has a rare form of dwarfism, accused Mr. Kline of retaliating against her and of workplace discrimination that came in the form of moving files out of her reach and declining to provide a way for her to gain access to them. On Wednesday, Mr. Kline told congressional investigators that he had moved the files but not intentionally, and called Ms. Newbold a “tricky” employee, according to two congressional committee aides with direct knowledge of his testimony.
On Thursday afternoon, Ms. Newbold, who has maintained that Mr. Kline moved the files on purpose, accused her former supervisor of lying to lawmakers.
“He denied putting files out of my reach?” Ms. Newbold said in a message relayed through her lawyer, Edward Passman. “So he blatantly lied to Congress?”
Mr. Passman said that his client did not know why Mr. Kline would have overruled security clearance recommendations — and that her motivations were not political. Ms. Newbold, he said, continued to be troubled by Mr. Kline’s policy of eliminating credit checks, one of the first ways officials can determine whether an individual is susceptible to foreign influence or blackmail.
“She’s only acting on behalf of national security,” Mr. Passman said. “She doesn’t want to get involved in this back-and-forth.”