House committee launches investigation into Rob Porter’s security clearance after domestic violence allegations

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

(WASHINGTON) — The chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee sent letters to White House Chief of Staff John Kelly and FBI Director Christopher Wray Wednesday morning seeking information about former White House staff secretary Rob Porter and his security clearance amid a firestorm surrounding allegations of domestic abuse.

Porter’s position came with access to some of the highly classified documents on the president’s desk. He worked on an interim security clearance until resigning last week when both his first and second wives publicly accused him of physical abuse.

Porter has denied the claims. Questions have arisen about who knew what in the White House and when, especially after the FBI director’s testimony appeared to contradict the White House timeline about when Porter’s background investigation was completed.

Rep. Trey Gowdy, of South Carolina, asked the White House and FBI for clarification on the “process, practices, and procedures” for issuing security clearances and how Porter’s case was handled.

Additionally, the House Oversight Committee has begun an official investigation, Gowdy confirmed on CNN’s “New Day” Wednesday morning.

The South Carolina Republican, who is not running for re-election in 2018, asked the White House to clarify when staffers learned of the allegations against Rob Porter.

A Monday statement from White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said the White House “learned of the extent of the situation involving Rob Porter last Tuesday evening (February 6).” The statement went on to say the FBI security clearance background investigation was “ongoing, hadn’t been completed.”

But that timeline appears to contradict Wray’s testimony from Tuesday that the FBI completed its security clearance “in late July.”

The FBI then responded to requests for follow up information in November, and finally “administratively closed the file in January … earlier this month we received some additional information and we passed that along as well,” Wray said.

“I would want to know from Don McGahn and General Kelly and anyone else — what did you know? From whom did you hear it? To what extent did you hear it? And then what actions, if any, did you take,” Gowdy said on “New Day.”

The White House has repeatedly claimed the background investigation was ongoing as the allegations of violence came to light, including photos of an ex-wife’s facial bruising and graphic descriptions of abuse from another wife.

Porter resigned last week soon after the allegations surfaced.

Gowdy asked for the information by Wednesday, Feb. 28th. The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee has jurisdiction over the security clearance process, but not who the White House chooses to hire, Gowdy told CNN.

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