FBI timeline on Rob Porter background checks contradicts White House
FBI Director Christopher Wray said on Tuesday the agency in late July completed a background check for security clearance for former White House staff secretary Rob Porter, who resigned last week amid allegations of domestic abuse by two former wives.
Wray’s comments conflict with the White House assertion that the Federal Bureau of Investigation and intelligence agencies had not completed investigations into Porter.
“I’m quite confident that in this particular instance, the FBI followed established protocols,” Wray told Senate Intelligence Committee as the White House faces questions over when it learned about the allegations against Porter.
There was no immediate comment from the White House.
WATCH: White House aide Rob Porter stepping down amid domestic abuse allegations by 2 ex-wives
Porter had been operating under a temporary clearance that gave him access to classified information without a final security clearance.
Wray said a partial report on Porter was issued in March and a completed report was submitted in late July. The FBI received a request for a follow-up inquiry, provided it in November and passed along additional information earlier this month.
“Soon thereafter we received a request for follow-up inquiry and we did the follow-up and provided that information in November and administratively closed the file in January,” he said.
“Earlier this month, we received some additional information and we passed that on as well.”
Asked if the White House had been informed of the allegations against Porter, Wray said, “I can’t get into the content.”
The White House has not offered a definitive explanation of when top officials first got word of problems in Porter’s background.
WATCH: White House addresses domestic violence allegations against Rob Porter
One official said White House Chief of Staff John Kelly had wondered last autumn why Porter’s clearance was taking so long – along with that of some other top officials, including the president’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner.
The extent of what he was told about Porter at the time is unclear. The White House has said Kelly became “fully aware” of the accusations on Wednesday and promptly obtained Porter’s resignation.
That was the day that photos emerged of one ex-wife with a black eye that she said was a result of an altercation with Porter, 40.
Trump brought criticism on himself on Saturday by not expressing sympathy toward domestic violence victims.
In a tweet on Saturday that did not mention any names, Trump lamented that “peoples lives are being shattered and destroyed by a mere allegation.”
Sanders on Monday stressed that Trump supports victims of domestic abuse.
“The president, along with the entire administration, takes domestic violence very seriously and believes all allegations need to be thoroughly investigated,” she told reporters.
— Reporting by Doina Chiacu and Patricia Zengerle; Additional reporting by Roberta Rampton; Editing by Bernadette Baum and Jeffrey Benkoe.
© 2018 Thomson Reuters