Timeline on Porter inquiry grows murky
WASHINGTON – The White House and the FBI differed in their accounts Tuesday about when White House officials knew about spousal abuse allegations against former top aide Rob Porter.
FBI Director Christopher Wray gave this sequence of events in Senate testimony: The bureau submitted a partial report on Porter’s background check to the White House in March, completed it in late July and followed up in November before closing the file in January. Porter’s two ex-wives said they told FBI agents that Porter had physically abused them.
White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said the White House Office of Personnel Security didn’t consider the investigation complete until November — and it had not made a final determination on Porter’s security clear- ance. Both the FBI and the White House said the bureau sent additional information on the background investigation as recently as this month.
Sanders said she couldn’t say when the White House learned about the domestic violence allegations. “I wouldn’t have access to that information,” she said.
The episode put a spotlight on White House Chief of Staff John Kelly, who maintained that he took action against Porter immediately after finding out about the allegations.
The White House explanation of the timeline draws a distinction between the White House Personnel Security Office — run by career civil servants — and senior advisers in the West Wing.
“The FBI portion (of the check) was closed,” Sanders said. “The White House Personnel Security Office, who is the one that makes a recommendation for adjudication, had not finished their process and therefore not made a recommendation to the White House.”