Sarah Huckabee Sanders (AP/Alex Brandon)

Sarah Huckabee Sanders blames someone else for the White House's latest major scandal

The Rob Porter scandal continues to plague a White House that can't seem to own up to anything, ever


Charlie May
February 14, 2018 1:23PM (UTC)

The White House thinks it deserves a trophy for trying its best.

It has been just over a week since White House staff secretary Rob Porter resigned amid a domestic violence scandal, and, in that week, the faith and trustworthiness of the West Wing has been shaken to its very core. First it was John Kelly. And on Tuesday, it was Sarah Huckabee Sanders' turn to be in the spotlight.

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The White House press secretary insisted during Tuesday's briefing that there was a very simple reason why Porter was allowed to keep his job, despite multiple accusations of violence from his ex-wives. It was the bureaucrats' fault.

"We’re giving you the best information that we’re going to have," Sanders said, implying it's not her, it's the information she's received that's faulty. "Obviously the press team’s not going to be as read-in, maybe, as some other elements, at a given moment, on a variety of topics. But we relay the best and most accurate information that we have, and we get those from those individuals."

Sanders' excuse came hours after sworn testimony given by FBI Director Christopher Wray that the FBI told the White House about the allegations.

From the beginning, the White House has made the claim that they didn't know about Porter's alleged history of domestic abuse, and it's pretty much never actually held any water throughout.

"The FBI submitted a partial report on the investigation in question in March, and then completed a background investigation in late July," Wray told Congress on 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."

Only one day earlier, Sanders told reporters, "the process for the background was ongoing, and the White House had not received any specific papers regarding the completion of that background check."

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She attempted to clear that up on Tuesday.

"Look, we explained the process extensively last week.  The White House Personnel Security Office, staffed by career officials, received information last year in what they considered to be the final background investigation report in November," she said. "But they had not made a final recommendation for adjudication to the White House because the process was still ongoing when Rob Porter resigned."

Sanders continued, "In the view of Personnel Security Office, the FBI’s July report required significant additional investigatory fieldwork before Personnel Security Office could begin to evaluate the information for adjudication."

When asked if that meant there was information about Porter's alleged abuse in those July papers, if not as far back as March, Sanders said that she "wouldn’t have access to that information."

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Another reporter pointed out that Sanders had said the investigation was "ongoing," when in fact Wray said it wasn't, since July.

"As I said, the FBI portion was closed," Sanders insisted.

In all, the White House has abysmally failed at properly relaying information to the public, but this is something that existed long before the Porter scandal and is likely to continue in any future scandals that inevitably seem to arise and somehow wash the previous ones away.

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Charlie May

Charlie May is a news writer at Salon. You can find him on Twitter at @charliejmay

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