House Republicans Open Investigation Into White House Handling Of Porter Scandal

50 minutes ago
Originally published on February 14, 2018 11:35 am

Updated at 12:35 p.m. ET

The White House's story about who knew what when about accusations of domestic violence against former White House staff secretary Rob Porter has been anything but clear.

Now, House Republicans have decided to open an investigation to get some clarity.

"I'm troubled by almost every aspect of this," House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., said on CNN on Wednesday morning. "How in the hell was he still employed?"

Gowdy received the support of House Speaker Paul Ryan, who said Wednesday morning that the White House "has work to do" to fix the vetting process and that the White House should "absolutely" condemn domestic violence.

Instead of condemning domestic violence, President Trump has twice seemed to defend Porter and another staffer who resigned amid domestic abuse allegations. He tweeted on Saturday, for example, that "lives are being shattered and destroyed by a mere allegation."

The House oversight committee penned a letter to the White House on Wednesday and released it on Twitter. It notes that FBI Director Christoper Wray appeared to contradict the White House on its timeline on the handling of the matter — and it wants to know "what information was available to the adjudicator of Porter's interim clearance at the time it was adjudicated; who adjudicated his clearance; and what derogatory information was subsequently made available to the White House on Porter, when, and to whom."

Gowdy notes in the letter that he wants answers to those and several other questions in two weeks, by Feb. 28.

Unlike most scandals over the first year of the Trump presidency, the Porter one has been in focus for a week now. Much of that is because of the White House's handling of it. That is something White House principal deputy press secretary Raj Shah acknowledged Thursday.

"We all could have done better," Shah told reporters. But, he added, "The emerging reports were not reflective of the individual who we had come to know."

Often, though, that is the case when it comes to domestic abuse.

For Gowdy, the White House's slowness to act and who it seemed to believe was a problem.

"How do you have any job if you have credible allegations of domestic abuse?" said Gowdy, who announced two weeks ago that he was not running for re-election. "Again, I am biased toward the victim."

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