White House Counsel Don McGahn first learned in January 2017 that the two ex-wives of recently departed staff secretary Rob Porter planned to say they were victims of domestic violence during his security clearance questioning, but permitted the embattled administration official to work in the West Wing because Porter denied their claims, according to a report published Friday morning.
McGahn decided to keep Porter on staff when he first found out that the two women — Colbie Holderness and Jennifer Willoughby — would call into question the senior staffer's character 13 months ago and then ignored other red flags about Porter in 2017.
In June, the FBI informed McGahn of some of its findings regarding Porter's past, but did not share details, which may have influenced the lawyer's decision not to move on the issue.
Three months later, McGahn was notified that Porter's background was delaying his security clearance. Again in November, Porter's ex-girlfriend, a member of the Trump administration, contacted McGahn to talk about her experiences with Porter.
All of those incidents were dismissed by the White House attorney who took no concrete action to investigate the matter, the Washington Post reported.
Chief of staff John Kelly, who joined the White House last July, found out in the fall that Porter's security clearance was being delayed due to an investigation into allegations of spousal abuse.
Both Kelly and McGahn told the Post they talked with Porter about the allegations and he downplayed them.
When McGahn spoke with Porter a year ago, Porter did not tell him what accusations he expected his ex-wives to make because he said they were not true, thus not worth sharing.
Porter has denied the allegations as "vile" and part of a "coordinated" smear campaign.