House oversight launches investigation into former Trump aide Rob Porter


Lawmakers on Capitol Hill want to know how former presidential aide Rob Porter was allowed to work at the White House under an interim security clearance — despite allegations of spousal abuse.

Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, told CNN on Wednesday (Feb. 14) that the panel decided Tuesday night to launch an investigation. Porter, the president’s staff secretary, resigned last week after his two ex-wives came forward with allegations of abuse.

House Speaker Paul Ryan was asked Wednesday about how the White House has handled the Porter allegations, and whether President Donald Trump needs to publicly condemn domestic violence.

“Clearly, we all should be condemning domestic violence,” Ryan told reporters. “And if a person who commits domestic violence gets in the government, then there’s a breakdown in the system. There’s a breakdown in the vetting system and that breakdown needs to be addressed.”

Ryan’s comments and word of the House probe come a day after the FBI contradicted the White House over the Porter accusations. The FBI said it gave the Trump administration information on multiple occasions last year about Porter and that the investigation wrapped up in January.

That account by FBI Director Christopher Wray challenged the White House assertion that Porter’s background “investigation was ongoing” and officials first learned the extent of accusations against him only last week, just before he abruptly resigned.

Wray’s testimony on Tuesday marked the latest development in a scandal that has called into question the judgment of senior members of the White House staff, put new stress on the administration’s already strained credibility with the public, and drawn accusations of tone-deaf handling of abuse allegations.

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.

Privately, officials acknowledge that the public timeline offered last week — that the administration first learned of the ex-wives’ charges against Porter last Tuesday — was flawed at best.

Several senior officials, including chief of staff John Kelly and White House counsel Don McGahn, were aware of the broad allegations against Porter for months, officials said.

Kelly found out after requesting an update on the large number of senior staffers operating without full security clearances, according to a senior administration official who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss internal discussions. 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.

Despite that, Porter took on an increasingly central role in the West Wing and was under consideration to serve as Trump’s deputy…



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