WASHINGTON ― The White House’s attempts to explain why it allowed a top aide accused of domestic violence by both of his ex-wives to keep his job took another hit on Tuesday, this time from FBI Director Christopher Wray.
President Donald Trump’s other top aides have been claiming that they did not know about the domestic violence allegations against former staff secretary Rob Porter until recently and that they did not appreciate the full extent of the accusations until photographs of one woman’s injuries were published by news outlets.
But Wray, who was named to that job by Trump, told the Senate Intelligence Committee that the FBI had given the White House a preliminary report on Porter nearly a year ago.
“I can’t get into the content of what was briefed,” he said in response to a question from Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.). “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.”
Wray added that the FBI “soon thereafter” received a request for a follow-up from the White House, which it completed and returned in November.
The FBI closed out its investigation in January, but then received “additional information” in early February, which it passed along as well, Wray said.
White House officials did not respond to multiple requests for comment about Wray’s testimony, which contradicts timelines offered by the White House press office over the past week.
After the first news report of the domestic abuse allegations against Porter was published by the London-based Daily Mail on Feb. 6, the White House offered statements fully supporting Porter, who functioned as Chief of Staff John Kelly’s top assistant.
It was the next day, after The Intercept published photos showing one of Porter’s former wives with a heavily bruised eye, that White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Porter was resigning of his own volition but would stay on through a transition period.
And it was later on the night of Feb. 7 that Kelly released a statement saying that he was “shocked” by the latest reports and that Porter had been told to leave.
Wray’s testimony on Tuesday corroborates reporting by HuffPost that Kelly, who took over the chief of staff job in early August 2017, learned of the charges against Porter in November but kept him on anyway because he valued Porter’s help in bringing order to what had been a chaotic White House.
Trump himself has not spoken at all about the two women accusing Porter, but has said that he feels bad for Porter, wishes him well and hopes he will have a good career.