Time­line on Porter in­quiry grows murky

USA TODAY US Edition - - NEWS - Kevin John­son and Gregory Korte

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.”

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