FBI Director Christopher Wray on Tuesday contradicted White House reports about the timeline concerning former Trump aide Rob Porter’s background check and White House security clearance.
What’s the background?
Porter, a White House staff secretary, resigned from his position on Wednesday after it was revealed that two of his ex-wives went public with accusations of domestic violence and spousal abuse.
A day before his resignation, Porter said that the allegations were false and called his ex-wives’ accounts a “coordinated smear campaign.”
What are the latest developments?
Wray, in a Capitol Hill testimony Tuesday, made statements directly contradicting White House accounts of when it reportedly learned of the abuse allegations against Porter.
Wray, during his testimony, said that the Federal Bureau of Investigation completed a background check in July for Porter’s security clearance.
Porter had reportedly been working at the White House on a provisional security clearance, which provided him access to sensitive information without actually possessing a formal security clearance.
This is an entirely different account from what the White House reported. The White House indicated that the FBI and other relevant intelligence agencies did not complete their background checks or security clearances for Porter.
According to Reuters, “White House officials had no immediate explanation.” At this time, the White House has not committed to a specific timeline of events indicating when they were made aware of the abuse allegations against Porter.
White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders on Monday told reporters that the White House only discovered the full extent of the allegations against Porter last week.
White House spokesperson Raj Shah on Thursday said that Porter’s “background investigation was ongoing,” and that the background check was never completed.
“I’m quite confident that in this particular instance, the FBI followed established protocols,” Wray told the Senate Intelligence Committee on Tuesday. He added that the FBI had submitted a partial Porter report in March, and a complete version in July.
“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,” Wray explained. “Earlier this month, we received some additional information and we passed that on as well.”
Wray told the committee that he couldn’t “get into the content” when asked if the White House had been informed of the abuse allegations against Porter.
When did John Kelly know?
Reuters on Tuesday reported that one White House official said that President Donald Trump’s chief of staff, John Kelly, over the fall months wondered why Porter’s security clearance was taking so long to come through.
The White House has maintained, however, that Kelly became “fully aware” of the allegations against Porter only last week during Porter’s resignation process.
Axios on Tuesday reported that “Kelly’s cover-up is unraveling,” indicating that Wray’s testimony to the Senate Intelligence Committee could be the death knell for Kelly’s White House tenure.
“Wray’s FBI timeline makes one thing clear: the Kelly cover-up is unraveling right before our eyes,” a White House official reportedly told the outlet after news of Wray’s testimony broke.
Former White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci on Tuesday also tweeted his thoughts on Wray’s testimony.
“Based on FBI testimony, WH Chief of Staff John Kelly almost certainly knew about credible allegations of domestic abuse against Rob Porter at least 6 months ago — then recently forced others to lie about that timeline. Inexcusable. Kelly must resign,” Scaramucci tweeted.
Based on FBI testimony, WH Chief of Staff John Kelly almost certainly knew about credible allegations of domestic abuse against Rob Porter at least 6 months ago – then recently forced others to lie about that timeline. Inexcusable. Kelly must resign. https://t.co/ydt7dmD7xs
— Anthony Scaramucci (@Scaramucci) February 13, 2018