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FBI finished Rob Porter's background check last year, director says. That contradicts the White House account

Joseph Tanfani, Tribune Washington Bureau on

Published in News & Features

WASHINGTON -- The FBI director said Tuesday the bureau completed its security check on President Donald Trump's staff secretary Rob Porter last summer, an account that casts more doubt on the White House's version of when officials learned of Porter's history of domestic violence allegations.

FBI Director Christopher Wray told the Senate Intelligence Committee that the FBI provided a partial report on Porter last March, submitted a completed investigation in late July, and sent requested follow-up information in November.

"We administratively closed the file in January, and then earlier this month we received some additional information, and we passed that along as well," Wray said. He declined to give details of what the FBI reported.

Porter, the White House staff secretary who worked closely with chief of staff John Kelly, was forced to resign last Wednesday after a picture surfaced of one of his ex-wives with a black eye. Both his ex-wives said they had reported his physical abuse to the FBI last year.

Like some other White House staffers, Porter never received an official security clearance. Last week, Raj Shah, the White House deputy press secretary, said that was because the White House was still waiting for the investigation to be finished.

"We should not short-circuit an investigation just because allegations are made, unless they could compromise national security or interfere with operations at the White House," Shah said. "The truth must be determined. And that was what was going on with Rob Porter. His background investigation was ongoing.

 

"He was operating on an interim security clearance. His clearance was never denied, and he resigned," Shah said.

Wray's account is sure to add to the furor over how Kelly and others on Trump's staff defended Porter after the Daily Mail first reported the ex-wives' accounts. Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders initially issued a statement praising Porter as "someone of the highest integrity and exemplary character."

The president has sent mixed signals, privately indicating his unhappiness with Kelly but publicly hitting back in a weekend tweet that expressed sympathy for men accused of abuse, not for the women who suffered.

"Peoples lives are being shattered and destroyed by a mere allegation," he tweeted on Saturday. "Some are true and some are false. Some are old and some are new. There is no recovery for someone falsely accused – life and career are gone. Is there no such thing any longer as Due Process?"

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