The FBI had completed its background investigation into Rob Porter before he left the White House, FBI Director Christopher Wray testified at a Senate intelligence Committee hearing on Tuesday.
The White House announced Porter’s resignation as staff secretary on February 7, after his two ex-wives publicly accused him of physical and emotional abuse. The timeline presented by Wray contradicts details the White House released and calls into question when administration officials knew about Porter’s alleged history of domestic abuse.
“The FBI submitted a partial report on the investigation [last]March and then a completed a background investigation in late July,” Wray said. “Soon thereafter, we received requests for follow-up inquiry, and we did the follow up and provided that information in November. And then we administratively closed the file in January.
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“Then earlier this month we received some additional information, and we passed that on as well,” Wray added.
But White House spokesman Raj Shah told reporters the day after the announcement of Porter’s departure that the background investigation for his permanent security clearance was ongoing. The White House also said the FBI first contacted the administration only in July, and did so again in November.
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Porter’s departure also refocused attention on the security clearance process itself. Other senior White House officials, including Jared Kushner, still lack permanent security clearances. Representative Elijah Cummings, the Democratic ranking member of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, has called for the panel to review the security clearance process. He repeated these calls in a February 8 letter to Representative Trey Gowdy, the committee chairman, following the reports about Porter.
Dan Coats, the director of national intelligence, also criticized the clearance process at the hearing on Tuesday. “The process is broken. It needs to be reformed,” he said.
But Wray defended the process’s integrity. “The background investigation process involves a fairly elaborate set of standards, guidelines, protocols, agreements, etc. that have been in place for 20 years,” he testified on Tuesday. “And I’m quite confident in this particular instance, the FBI followed the established protocols.”
This article was first written by Newsweek
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