Trump's FBI director just told the truth about Rob Porter — and it's not what the White House says

The White House has said that they didn't know about Rob Porter's background, but the FBI says they were warned

Published February 13, 2018 1:23PM (EST)

Christopher Wray   (AP/Lawrence Jackson)
Christopher Wray (AP/Lawrence Jackson)

President Donald Trump and the White House have been claiming that they didn't know about staff secretary Rob Porter's alleged history of domestic abuse, but the head of the FBI just proved them wrong.

"The FBI submitted a partial report on the investigation in question in March, and then completed a background investigation in late July," FBI Director Christopher Wray told Congress Tuesday. "Soon thereafter we received requests for a follow-up inquiry, and we did the follow-up and provided that information in November, and then we administrative closed the file in January; and then earlier this month we received some additional information and we passed that along as well."

Wray's testimony Tuesday completely contradicted the White House's ever-changing story on the man responsible for determining what was and wasn't seen by the president. The White House long claimed that Porter was fired — "gone" in their words — 40 minutes after Chief of Staff John Kelly found out that Porter's ex-wives alleged he assaulted them.

Wray's testimony also pointed to the fact that the White House sat on damaging information about a key staffer, refusing to fire him until the allegations came to light. In the wake of Porter's firing, Trump actually came to his defense, telling reporters, "He says he's innocent."

Yet with Porter gone, Kelly's perceived coverup is "unraveling right before our eyes," one White House official told Axios. Kelly's claim to have fired Porter right away has been disproven. Reporters were told at the time that many senior officials wanted Porter to "stay and fight" as early as Wednesday.

The White House has also defended Porter's lack of a security clearance, by saying that an FBI background check "hasn't been completed." That quote came from Deputy Press Secretary Raj Shah, who told reporters, a "background investigation was ongoing. He was operating on an interim security clearance. His clearance was never denied."

Because Kelly's credibility has depended on being perceived as a force of calmness and discipline in an otherwise chaotic White House, questions about whether he could be trusted could be fatal to his position as chief of staff. And Wray's testimony further undercut any claims that Kelly could have made about how he handled the situation. On Monday, The Wall Street Journal asked Kelly if he handled the situation well.

“It was all done right,” Kelly responded.

By Matthew Rozsa

Matthew Rozsa is a professional writer whose work has appeared in multiple national media outlets since 2012 and exclusively at Salon since 2016. His diverse interests are reflected in his interview, including: President Jimmy Carter (1977-1981), Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak (1999-2001), animal scientist and autism activist Temple Grandin, inventor Ernő Rubik, comedian Bill Burr ("F Is for Family"), novelist James Patterson ("The President's Daughter"), epidemiologist Monica Gandhi, theoretical cosmologist Janna Levin, voice actor Rob Paulsen ("Animaniacs"), mRNA vaccine pioneer Katalin Karikó, philosopher of science Vinciane Despret, actor George Takei ("Star Trek"), climatologist Michael E. Mann, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee (2013-present), dog cognition researcher Alexandra Horowitz, Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson (2012, 2016), comedian and writer Larry Charles ("Seinfeld"), Democratic vice presidential nominee Joe Lieberman (2000), Ambassador Michael McFaul (2012-2014), economist Richard Wolff, director Kevin Greutert ("Saw VI"), model Liskula Cohen, actor Rodger Bumpass ("SpongeBob Squarepants"), Senator John Hickenlooper (2021-present), biologist and genomics entrepreneur William Haseltine, comedian David Cross ("Scary Movie 2"), linguistics consultant Paul Frommer ("Avatar"), Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley (2007-2015), computer engineer and Internet co-inventor Leonard Kleinrock and right-wing insurrectionist Roger Stone.

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Related Topics ------------------------------------------

Christopher Wray Domestic Abuse Donald Trump Fbi John Kelly Rob Porter