White House, FBI differ in accounts of investigation of aide
WASHINGTON (AP) — Contradicting the White House, the FBI said it gave the Trump administration information on multiple occasions last year about a top aide accused of domestic abuse by his two ex-wives, and the investigation wrapped up in January.
That account by FBI Director Christopher Wray challenged the White House assertion that Rob Porter's background "investigation was ongoing" and officials first learned the extent of accusations against him only last week, just before he abruptly resigned.
Wray's testimony on Tuesday marked the latest development in a scandal that has called into question the judgment of senior members of the White House staff, put new stress on the administration's already strained credibility with the public, and drawn accusations of tone-deaf handling of abuse allegations.
Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, told CNN on Wednesday that the panel decided Tuesday night to launch an investigation into how Porter was allowed to work at the White House under an interim security clearance despite allegations of spousal abuse.
The weeklong fallout from the allegations against Porter, President Donald Trump's staff secretary, has thrown the West Wing into chaos not seen since the earliest months of the administration and has sparked new rounds of recriminations inside the White House.
Privately, officials acknowledge that the public timeline offered last week – that the administration first learned of the ex-wives' charges against Porter last Tuesday – was flawed at best.
Several senior officials, including chief of staff John Kelly and White House counsel Don McGahn, were aware of the broad allegations against Porter for months, officials said.