FBI Says It Gave WH Counsel McGahn ‘Derogatory’ Info On Porter In March 2017

UNITED STATES - FEBRUARY 01: Rob Porter, right, White House staff secretary, and Don McGahn, White House counsel, attend a luncheon featuring a speech by President Donald Trump at the House and Senate Republican retreat at The Greenbrier resort in White Sulphur Springs, W.Va., on February 1, 2018. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call Group

The FBI told members of Congress in a recent letter that the White House counsel, Don McGahn (above left), was given a partial report with “derogatory” information about former Staff Secretary Rob Porter (above right) 11 months before Porter resigned over domestic violence allegations.

“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” about Porter, Gerald Roberts Jr., assistant director of the FBI’s security division, wrote to House Oversight Committee Chair Trey Gowdy (R-SC) and Ranking Member Elijah Cummings (D-MD). Cummings published the letter, which was dated April 13, on Thursday. 

The New York Times, citing an unnamed former federal law enforcement official, reported Thursday that the allegations of violence made against Porter were included in the March report.

That timeline clashes with the White House’s claims.

While FBI Director Christopher Wray had previously told Congress that the bureau had provided the White House with a “partial report” on Porter in March 2017, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders claimed the FBI’s information went to “career officials” in the White House Personnel Security Office.

“I think you need to be very clear that there’s multiple groups here,” she told reporters in February. “The White House Personnel Security Office, which is staffed by career officials, would have — may have received information, but they had not completed their process and made a recommendation to the White House for adjudication.” 

The Washington Post reported in February that McGahn had learned of the allegations against Porter as early as January 2017.

The Times on Thursday quoted an unnamed White House official who said McGahn never saw the March FBI report, as he was busy with other things. The official said that aides believed the report was reviewed by an “underling,” in the Times’ words, who passed it along to the Personnel Security Office.

“Don never saw it,” the source said. “The right people never saw it.”

The Times noted that the White House has previously claimed the March report contained only basic information about Porter, not abuse allegations.

Cummings responded to the letter by saying in a statement: “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. But White House officials ignored this information and continued granting Porter access to our nation’s most highly classified secrets—just as they did with Michael Flynn and Jared Kushner.”

He called on Gowdy to subpoena the White House after what he said was the Trump administration’s repeated stonewalling on document production.

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