Published: Thu, February 15, 2018
Global | By Shelia Dennis

Questions and answers about security clearances

Questions and answers about security clearances

Eric Trump has weighed in on the furor surrounding accusations of domestic violence against former White House aide Rob Porter, saying that anyone who abuses women is the "lowest of the low".

Porter resigned last week after multiple reports alleged he physically and emotionally abused his two ex-wives.

FBI Director Christopher Wray on Tuesday contradicted the White House account of when it was first informed about possible problems dredged up in a background check of former top Trump aide Rob Porter. McGahn told Kelly last fall there was concern about information in the background investigation involving Porter's ex-wives, the official said, and Kelly expressed surprise that Porter had previously been married.

She would not say who allowed Porter to stay in his role for more than a year without permanent clearance or answer whether the personnel security office communicated with Kelly and other top officials as the Federal Bureau of Investigation began reporting its findings.

Chief of staff John Kelly and others were clueless about their contents because that office was still investigating and didn't share the information with senior administration officials, she said.

Trump's presidential campaign and now his White House has seen an extraordinary churn of staffers.

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Porter resigned last week amid domestic violence accusations from his ex-wives.

The president also tweeted, without mentioning Porter by name, how disgusting it is that "Peoples [sic] lives are being shattered and destroyed by a mere allegation".

Trump has complained to confidants that Kelly let the scandal spin out of control and that the constantly shifting narratives make the White House - and, by extension, Trump himself - look amateurish and incompetent, according to one person familiar with the discussions but not authorized to discuss them publicly.

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders arranged the meeting last week with Maggie Haberman of The New York Times, The Washington Post's Josh Dawsey, Jonathan Swan of Axios, and The Wall Street Journal's Michael Bender.

Bill Savarino, an attorney who represents clients during security clearance investigations, said the report might also include an investigator's own observations about a person's candor. "And then we administratively closed the file in January, and then earlier this month we received some additional information and we passed that on as well", he added without elaborating further.

Sanders also said "the president and chief of staff have had full confidence and trust in his abilities and his performance". "Soon thereafter we received request for follow-up inquiry, and we did the follow-up and provided that information in November", Wray said.

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For almost a week now President Trump's communications team has spun a misleading narrative about why Porter was still working at the White House with access to classified information despite only holding an interim security clearance.

"We find those statements to be consistent with one another", Sanders says. "He was operating on an interim security clearance".

Typically, officials in sensitive positions are initially given interim security clearances while investigators seek out friends, ex-spouses and others for interviews.

Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats added that the American public needs to know that this interference "is real" and that the country needs to build a system to protect elections from meddling. He said the inefficiency was "costing us millions of dollars", and hurting efforts to recruit and retain intelligence officials.

Both women publicly have said they reported his physical abuse to the Federal Bureau of Investigation early a year ago. But when asked if she was concerned for top White House aide Hope Hicks, who is dating Porter, Conway said no because "I've rarely met somebody so strong with such excellent instincts and loyalty and smarts". "They've just got to be stronger, more consistent, clearer in the message" to women, Sen.

On Monday, however, she had told reporters the background investigation process "doesn't operate within the White House. I beg to differ". But the White House allowed Mr. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, said on CNN Tuesday.

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