House committee launches investigation into Rob Porter’s interim security clearance following abuse allegations

Clark Mindock
Mr Gowdy leads the committee launching the probe: Getty Images

A House panel has announced it is investigating how former White House aide Rob Porter was allowed to work in the West Wing under an interim security clearance despite allegations of domestic abuse.

Rep Trey Gowdy, the chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, confirmed that his panel was taking a look into the allegations on CNN Tuesday night, and how Mr Porter was able to play such an important role in the White House despite the claims.

The announcement came just a day after the FBI contradicted the White House, saying that they had provided the Trump administration with information about Mr Porter’s alleged spousal abuse at least four times over the past year. Mr Porter has denied the allegations against him.

The White House has said that they did not learn of the full extent of the allegations until just before Mr Porter’s resignation, last week.

“I can’t get into the content of what was briefed to the White House. What I can tell you is that the FBI submitted a partial report on the investigation in question in March. And then a completed background investigation in late July” Christopher Wray, the director of the FBI, told Congress during testimony under oath Tuesday.

“That soon thereafter, we received request for follow-up inquiry and we did the follow-up and provided that information in November and that we administratively closed the file in January,” he continued.

The week-long scandal has thrust the White House into a chaos that it has not experienced since the early, tumultuous days of President Donald Trump’s tenure in office. As the story has unfolded, the public has learned that several senior officials including Chief of Staff John Kelly and White House counsel Don McGahn were aware of the abuse allegations for months, officials have told the Associated Press.

Despite his lack of full security clearance, and although senior officials in the White House were aware of allegations, Mr Porter was able to take an increasingly central role in the administration. At one point he was considered to be Mr Trump’s deputy chief of staff.

White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders has said that, although Mr Wray said the FBI investigation had been closed, the White House still considered the case open since the White House Office of Personnel Security had not given a final sign-off for Mr Porter’s security clearance.

“We find those statements to be consistent with one another,” Ms Sanders said.

Beyond Mr Porter, the White House has yet to disclose the number of people working for the West Wing who have not received full clearances. The group includes Mr Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner, and Mr Kushner’s lawyer has said there are a dozen others at his client’s level who do not have full clearance.

The Associated Press contributed to this report