Donald Trump’s White House has known for many months that top aide Rob Porter was facing multiple allegations of spousal abuse, the FBI Director revealed in testimony Tuesday that now has many accusing the White House of lying.
FBI Director Christopher Wray made his first public comments about the process of applying for a security clearance for Porter, who resigned his position after former wives accused him of physically abusing them. Wray said that the White House was first notified in March of last year and that the FBI submitted a completed review in late July, USA Today reported.
But the White House had claimed last week that it was not aware of the full nature of Rob Porter’s abuse allegations until last week. Raj Shah, the White House spokesperson, had also said that the background investigation was never completed, which is in direct conflict with Wray’s statements on Tuesday. That has led to charges that the White House knowingly lied, including the left-leaning Think Progress that published a report claiming Trump’s White House has “been blatantly lying about the abuse scandal.”
The White House — and Donald Trump in particular — has come under fire for its defense of Porter amid the allegations despite jumping on allegations made against political foes. In a tweet, Trump bemoaned that Porter’s reputation was being smeared by a “mere allegation” and called for due process.
That has led to sharp criticism of Trump, who has often been quick to make unfounded allegations against others including persistent claims that Barack Obama was not born in the United States and had a fake birth certificate.
And even though the FBI claims it warned the White House about the allegations against Rob Porter, a report from CNN claimed that he was actually up for a promotion at the time the allegations were made public and he was forced to resign.
As Time writer Areva Martin noted, Trump’s defense of Rob Porter also misconstrued the basic facts about the allegations against him.
“First, the accounts by Porter’s ex-wives were not ‘mere allegations,’ ” she wrote. “Jennie Willoughby received an emergency protective order against Porter in 2010. Colbie Holderness saved a photograph of a black eye she says Porter inflicted. Both women gave statements to the FBI under the threat of perjury during its vetting process for Porter’s security clearance (the White House says Porter never received a permanent clearance because of the allegations but was operating with a temporary one). Holderness’s photograph alone would be enough to prosecute Porter for domestic violence in many jurisdictions.”
The White House has not yet responded to allegations that it lied about the abuse allegations against Rob Porter, and Donald Trump has remained silent on the FBI testimony for at least a few hours after it took place.