House Speaker Paul Ryan says ‘clearly we all should be condemning domestic violence” after Trump’s refusal to do so. His comments come following domestic violence allegations against White House former staff secretary Rob Porter. (Feb. 14)
WASHINGTON — The House Oversight Committee launched an investigation into the security clearance for former White House Staff Secretary Rob Porter on Wednesday, escalating a growing controversy into what the White House knew about domestic violence allegations against President Trump’s senior aide.
Chairman Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., sent letters to White House Chief of Staff John Kelly and FBI Director Christopher Wray, demanding answers about who in the White House knew of the accusations by two ex-wives.
Porter, whose job as staff secretary gave him access to some of the most sensitive documents the president sees, was allowed to work on an interim security clearance until he resigned last week when the accusations came to light. Two of Porter’s ex-wives accused him of physical abuse, and told FBI agents that he could be susceptible to blackmail.
“The committee is investigating the policies and processes by which interim security
clearances are investigated and adjudicated within the executive branch, and the extent to which any security clearance issued to Porter comported with those policies and processes,” Gowdy said in the letters.
Gowdy pointed to conflicting accounts of the timeline of Porter’s clearance from Wray, who testified to the Senate Tuesday that the background investigation was completed in July, and White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, who said the process was “ongoing” and “hadn’t been completed” when Porter left his job.
More: FBI and White House have conflicting timelines on Rob Porter background check
The top Democrat on the oversight committee, Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., called the letters a “first step,” but said the committee also needs to investigate security clearances for former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, who has been convicted of lying about his contacts with the Russian ambassador, and for Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner, who maintains an interim security clearance.
“It is no secret that I have been extremely frustrated that our committee has done nothing over the past year to address the completely dysfunctional security clearance system at the White House, despite my many requests,” Cummings said.
House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., said Wednesday that Gowdy was “doing his proper job” by looking into the process by which Porter was given an interim clearance.
“I mean, come on, clearly we should all be condemning domestic violence,” he said. “And if a person who commits domestic gets in the government, then there’s a breakdown in the system. There’s a breakdown in the vetting system and that breakdown needs to be addressed.”
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