White House legislative director Marc Short said the White House followed proper security clearance procedures in the case of Rob Porter, the staff secretary drummed out of the administration after his two ex-wives accused him of domestic violence.
Short said on NBC’s “Meet The Press” Sunday the Trump administration is using the same process as former Presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush used in getting their staffers security clearances.
“This is the same process of the administration that the Obama administration used, the Bush administration used, and others, and that the FBI runs this clearance process,” he said. “If they provide someone an interim clearance, that means they've done an initial vet and said this person is okay, there's mitigating circumstances, we're going to continue to investigate.”
“We had not received a final investigation. When Gen. [John] Kelly learned the depth of the nature of the accusations Tuesday night, by Wednesday morning, Rob Porter submitted his resignation.”
Short made the argument that Porter was allowed to stay in his position for so long because the FBI’s backlog of security clearance investigations was causing more people to stay on interim clearances. He said Porter had no been taken out of the White House earlier because the investigation was ongoing.
“The FBI is the final investigation. They had not completed that investigation,” he said.
There’s some dispute about what the White House knew about Porter and when officials knew it.
One of Porter’s ex-wives said she contacted White House counsel Don McGahn in November to tell him about the past abuse. McGahn reportedly informed chief of staff John Kelly, who took no action until after the Daily Mail reported the full allegations on Tuesday.
The FBI reportedly knew of the alleged abuse as early as January 2017.
Short appeared to argue Porter was in good standing with the FBI because he was granted an interim clearance.
“The president didn't waive security clearances. I think we all had full confidence in Rob, and since he had been provided interim clearance, there were mitigating circumstances,” Short said. “There are some who don't even get that interim clearance because there's something that comes up in their background and he doesn't get that first step.”