A new letter from the Federal Bureau of Investigation released on Thursday casts doubt on White House claims about when they first became aware of abuse accusations against former staff secretary Rob Porter—calling into question the contention that they were only made aware via public reports.
The letter, released by Rep. Elijah Cummings, the ranking Democrat on the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, indicates that the FBI first alerted White House counsel Donald F. McGahn to some of the allegations as far back as March 2017.
“Regarding your request for dates pertaining to Mr. Porter’s background investigation, the following information is provided,” the letter addressed to chairman Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC) and Cummings reads. “On March 3, 2017, the FBI provided a partial report of investigation addressed to the Counsel to the President, Donald F. McGahn, which contained derogatory information.”
It goes on to say: “On July 21, 2017, the FBI submitted a completed background investigation addressed to the EOP Personnel Security Division.” Subsequent to that, the FBI contends, they received a request for additional information in August “to include but not limited to, re-interviews of Mr. Porter, his ex-wives, and his girlfriend at the time.”
“On November 1, 2017, the FBI submitted a completed investigative report addressed to the EOP Personnel Security Division, which contained additional derogatory information,” the letter continues. “On January 3, 2017, the FBI’s investigative file was administratively closed. Following its closing of the background investigation, the FBI received additional information, which was provided in a memorandum addressed to the EOP Personnel Security Operations on February 7, 2018.”
Porter resigned in February, amid extended controversy, during which time the White House struggled to describe the extent of their knowledge about the allegations he physically abused his two ex-wives.
Initially, Chief of Staff John Kelly and White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders defended Porter but the White House contended that Kelly’s position changed once he saw images purportedly showing the abuse of Porter’s former partners.
Cummings charged that the White House has not given over documents that Gowdy requested and also criticized the chairman for not issuing a subpoena as a result.
“The FBI has now confirmed that it repeatedly provided derogatory information to the White House about Rob Porter as far back as March of 2017,” Cummings said in a statement. “But White House officials ignored this information and continued granting Porter access to our nation's most highly classified secrets—just as they with Michael Flynn and Jared Kushner.”