White House Knew About Rob Porter Allegations A Year Ago: FBI Letter

The letter to Congress contradicts the White House's account of the spousal abuse scandal.

The FBI told the White House a year ago ― and at least twice thereafter ― that former staff secretary Rob Porter allegedly abused his ex-wives, according to a letter to Congress that challenges the administration’s official timeline.

On Thursday, Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), the top Democrat on the House oversight committee, released the April 13 letter from Gerald Roberts Jr., assistant director of the FBI’s security division. The bureau, which conducts background checks on White House employees, submitted a file detailing the spousal abuse to White House counsel Donald McGahn in March 2017, the letter says. That was nearly a year before Porter’s resignation.

“White House officials ignored this information and continued granting Porter access to our nation’s most highly classified secrets — just as they did with Michael Flynn and Jared Kushner,” Cummings said in a statement to HuffPost, referring to President Donald Trump’s former national security adviser and his son-in-law.

Porter resigned in February after reports of spousal abuse began to surface. Colbie Holderness, Porter’s first wife, alleged that he punched her in 2005, and his other ex-wife, Jennifer Willoughby, said he emotionally, mentally and physically abused her.

White House officials claimed that the administration was unaware of the extent of the abuse allegations prior to the news reports, despite the fact that Porter was still on a temporary security clearance a year into the administration.

The FBI letter provides further confirmation for statements Director Christopher Wray made in February, in which he said a preliminary report on Porter was submitted to the White House a year prior.

The letter says that a full report was given to the White House in July, as well as another report in November that was requested by the Executive Office of the President’s security division.

The House oversight committee launched an investigation into the handling of Porter’s situation a week after the scandal went public. White House officials sent a letter to the committee in March refusing to turn over information about Porter’s employment and did not answer committee questions.

Cummings chastised the oversight committee’s chairman, Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.), for his handling of the investigation.

“The White House is now refusing to provide documents to the Oversight Committee, yet Chairman Gowdy refuses to issue a subpoena or demand interviews of White House staff that he promised,” Cummings said in a statement.

Cummings characterized the developments as the latest “in a string of grave national security breaches at the highest levels of the Trump Administration,” in which the White House openly defies Congress.

Trump initially defended Porter after the allegations were made public, tweeting that “peoples lives are being shattered and destroyed by a mere allegation.” White House chief of staff John Kelly also had kind words for Porter, calling him “a man of true integrity.”

The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Need help? In the U.S., call 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) for the National Domestic Violence Hotline.

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