White House Security Clearances Under Scrutiny

More and more questions are rising regarding White House aide Rob Porter’s security clearance and whether he should have been allowed to handle classified material that goes through President Donald Trump’s desk.

Porter was accused of domestic abuse by his two ex-wives which led to his resigning his post after a year of serving as the gatekeeper to the Oval Office, handling and vetting scores of presidential memos, nominations and other documents.

The FBI was previously aware of the accusations against Porter which resulted in him not receiving a full security clearance. According to The Hill, the revelations have triggered questions about why Porter was allowed to continue to serve in the gatekeeper role in the first place, given his possible susceptibility to blackmail.

“We never would have allowed someone to hold that position knowing the history that he had,” said Don Gips, who was head of personnel on President Barack Obama’s transition team.

The scandal also raised questions about who else at the White House was aware of the abuse accusations against Porter and at what point they became aware of them. Most of the heat fell on White House counsel Don McGahn and chief of staff John Kelly, for whom Porter was a key ally.

“The real question is, when somebody knew the decision had been made not to grant clearances, what happened?” said Steven Cash, a lawyer at the firm Day Pitney.

The Hill reports that the controversy has also spurred scrutiny of the broader handling of security clearances within the White House, with reports that dozens of employees are awaiting permanent clearances. The White House said in a statement Thursday that Porter had only interim security clearance as the FBI continued its background investigation.

“We should not short-circuit an investigation just because allegations are made, unless they could compromise national security or interfere with operations at the White House,” White House spokesman Raj Shah said.

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