Published: Wed, February 14, 2018
Global | By Shelia Dennis

Amid Rob Porter scandal, House launches investigation into White House security clearances

Amid Rob Porter scandal, House launches investigation into White House security clearances

FBI Director Christopher Wray says the bureau gave the Trump administration information on multiple occasions a year ago regarding Rob Porter, who has been accused of domestic abuse by his two ex-wives.

Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, sent letters to the FBI and White House on Wednesday as his panel opened an investigation into the matter.

Gowdy told Wray in his letter that the Federal Bureau of Investigation chief's comments "may contradict" those made by White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders, who said the White House only learned of the claims against Porter when they were reported in the media on February 6.

Ryan said that with the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program tied up in courts, the March 5 deadline set by the Trump administration is "not as important", though he added that Congress operates better with a timeline.

Porter has denied the allegations.

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The White House has repeatedly said that Porter's "background investigation was ongoing" when he resigned his position, and that the first the White House learned of the allegations against him was last Tuesday.

He said chief of staff John Kelly was one person to ask, as is White House counsel Don McGahn, who sources have said had knowledge of abuse allegations.

"The White House personnel security office, staffed by career officials, received information past year in what they considered to be the final background investigation report in November", Sanders said. "Whether or not there is a security clearance issue or not, I have real questions about whether someone like this can be considered for employment, whether there's a security clearance issue or not".

The weeklong fallout from the allegations against Porter has thrown the West Wing into chaos not seen since the earliest months of the administration and has sparked new rounds of recriminations inside the White House. Much of that is because of the White House's handling of it. Fox News is told, however, that Kelly is not being pushed out. "He should've been terminated and had his security clearance stripped", Mr. Lieu said.

"We have a broken system and I think everybody's come to agree with that now", Dan Coats, the director of national intelligence, told The Associated Press.

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A senior administration official said as many as two dozen senior officials don't hold permanent clearances. "You can call it unofficial", Gowdy said.

"What matters to me is that we are directing inquiries to people that we think have access to information we don't have", he said.

As staff secretary, Porter handled some of the Oval Office's most sensitive materials, which should have made his security clearance a priority after Trump took office in January 2017.

In an op-ed in the Washington Post, Porter's ex-wife Colbie Holderness said Conway's comment "implies that those who have been in abusive relationships are not strong".

The White House approach has drawn criticism even from Trump's own party.

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