White House Lied About Porter’s Security Clearance, and Other Insecurity News

Trump Maladministration

The White House claimed that Rob Porter’s background check was still pending when he was ousted last week. Today FBI Director Christopher Wray let it be known the FBI had completed Porter’s background check in July.

“What I can tell you is that the FBI submitted a partial report on the investigation in question in March, and then a completed background investigation in late July,” he said, noting that the FBI “followed the established protocol” with Porter.

“Soon thereafter we received requests for follow-up inquiry and we did the follow-up and provided that information in November. And then we administratively closed the file in January,” he continued. “And then earlier this month we received some additional information and we passed that on as well.”

White House spokesperson Raj Shah told “Fox & Friends” on Tuesday, describing the White House’s position, that Porter’s background check “had not been completed yet. It was still in the investigative process and had yet to be adjudicated. So prior to an adjudication, the White House is not going to step into the middle of a process and short circuit it.”

The FBI, however, doesn’t give security clearances.

People familiar with the process for obtaining clearance said the FBI does not make any final decisions or recommendations and that the White House, specifically the counsel’s office and the security office, would have been heavily involved in deciding whether to grant Porter clearance.

Porter is among multiple West Wing aides still working on interim clearances, according to administration officials. …

… At Tuesday’s hearing, director of National Intelligence Dan Coats said that people with temporary security clearance should get only limited access to sensitive, classified information, calling the process “broken.” Coats did not mention any individuals.

“Sometimes it is necessary to have some type of preliminary clearance in order to fill a slot, but … access has to be limited in terms of the kinds of information they can be in a position to receive or not receive,” Coats said. “It needs to be reformed.”

So, this security clearance screwup is entirely the White House’s screwup.

Daniel Coats, the director of national intelligence, addressed the situation with Russian interference with elections.

“There should be no doubt that Russia perceives its past efforts” to disrupt the 2016 presidential campaign “as a success,” and it “views the 2018 midterm elections” as another opportunity to conduct an attack, said Coats.

His assessment was echoed by all five other intelligence agency heads present at the hearing, including CIA Director Mike Pompeo, who two weeks ago stated publicly he had “every expectation” that Russia will try to influence the coming elections.

Sen. Mark R. Warner commented,

“What we are seeing is a continuous assault by Russia to target and undermine our democratic institutions, and they are going to keep coming at us.”

“Despite all of this, the president inconceivably continues to deny the threat posed by Russia,” Warner continued. “He didn’t increase sanctions on Russia when he had a chance to do so. He hasn’t even tweeted a single concern. This threat demands a whole-of-government response, and that needs to start with leadership at the top.”

See also Why there’s so much chaos in the Trump administration by Ezra Klein.

Update: Since this morning, Sarah Sanders has been reduced to admitting she doesn’t know what the bleep is going on (“Obviously the press team’s not going to be as read-in, maybe, as some other elements, at a given moment, on a variety of topics.”) Axios reports that John Kelly is becoming more isolated. Nobody is saying whether Trump knew that Porter was a bad security risk, or not.

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  1. Swami  •  Feb 13, 2018 @4:01 pm

    Trump is an abuser himself so naturally he'd defend a fellow traveler. He tweets about allowing due process for Porter to protect against unsubstantiated allegations. Then Sanders follows his lead in promoting that deflection to imply that somehow the White House didn't have enough information to make an honest and accurate judgement to the truth of the allegations.

     The problem with that is that Porter had an order of protection placed against him..And that doesn't happen without an opportunity to go before a judge and present his side of events before the order is issued. Porter might have dismissed that opportunity by being a no show at his hearing, in which case he would default to the order of the court. And if he presented a defense against the allegations of his wife needing the courts protections.. The judge evidently sided with the wife in her appeal to the court. The courts don't give out orders of protections without knowing why they are protecting someone.

    The White House had full knowledge that Porter would never qualify for a security clearance because he was a "certified" abuser. There's no getting around that. They can lie and plead ignorance or hide behind a fog of obfuscation all they want, but a court of law rightfully determined porter is an abuser. The White House knew that, and to say different is just another vile lie coming out of Trump's snake pit of moral abominations.

    I'll say it again.. Trump is a big bag of shit! Flee from him.

  2. Doug  •  Feb 13, 2018 @4:35 pm

    One thing Ezra omitted from a well-organized article is that Trump has a policy of not hiring qualified people who were previously critical of him. This further shrinks the pool of available people and eliminates many qualified conservatives.

    There's a story that Kissinger was reduced to begging people on the basis they'd be serving the presidency – not the president. And Nixon was at least informed and coherent, though twisted. Trump offers not one iota of competence and he's twisted like a spring.

  3. Swami  •  Feb 13, 2018 @4:42 pm

    In answer to Ezra Klein's question of why there is so much chaos in the White House..here's a better explanation. Just a slight modification in the lyrics of Amazing Grace.

    Through many dangers, toils and snares,
    I have already come;
    ’Tis chaos hath brought me safe thus far,
    And chaos will lead me home.

  4. Swami  •  Feb 13, 2018 @5:28 pm

     Raj Shah should devote a little more time developing his lying skills. He's really not at all accomplished in that department. He seems to be a little too timid in projecting his lies. Sorta like it doesn't come naturally to him. You'd think that being surrounded by some really a proficient liars that some of their techniques would rub off on him. He works under Sarah Huckabee Sanders who is a master at distortion, deflection and avoidance in dealing with the truth, and yet Raj still comes off a neophyte liar. What gives?

    I think if he spent more time observing the skills of Kellyanne Conway or Sarah Huckabee and less time emulating John Kelly's style of lying he would be much better served. IMHO!

  5. Swami  •  Feb 13, 2018 @8:18 pm

    I know, I know.. some of your are poo pooing the idea that I put Kellyanne Conway's name up as an example of an accomplished liar. I know she got caught flatfooted in one of her lying diatribes. The one where she slipped up with the "alternative facts" comment. Normally a slip up like that would make her seem rather amatuerish, but you have to consider the volume of lies she was turning out. No easy feat. So to judge her as not being up to par in her ability to lie isn't a true measure of her lying ability. I challenge anyone who doesn't think she's a proficient liar to churn out the amount of lies that Kellyanne has without a slip up. I mean, even Babe Ruth struck out on occasion. Give credit where credit is due. She's a good lair…. bar none.

  6. Doug  •  Feb 13, 2018 @9:16 pm

    What I'm noticing is that Trump is locked at just at/under 40% approval with Gallup. I'm not going to debate the accuracy of the number but I believe the methodology is consistent. Nothing is changing Trump's approval. Nothing. 

    I'm waiting, as I think the GOP in Congress is waiting, for Mueller to release the results. If there's a smoking gun, will Trump fall from grace tot he point impeachment will begin? If Trump does not lose popularity with the GOP voters, assuming there is evidence of criminal behavior, can/will Democrats effectively gore the GOP for supporting Trump with the (I am guessing) 70% of voters who can see the truth if it's presented factually? 

  7. uncledad  •  Feb 14, 2018 @1:19 am

    "defend a fellow traveler "

    Does he really defend them? I think the skill Trump has is he exists in a space where trust is not defined. He wins every argument because he doesn't bother to argue or win? His positions are so ridiculous that whoever engages loses. This is not going to end well!



  8. elkern  •  Feb 14, 2018 @12:49 pm

    DOG BITES MAN!   ( = "White House Lies…" )

    Like Doug, I'm waiting for Mueller.  Will he find anything that actually gets through to the Trumpists?  But the effect probably depends less on the Mueller's Report than on the spin applied by Fox News.   If Fox decides to Dump Trump, then the GOP will be able to install Pence with minimal risk in the Midterms.  If Fox sticks with Trump, the GOP won't try to impeach him until after the Midterms.

    Is Fox the only entity with this kind of power?  What portion of the hard-core Trumpists get their news/propaganda/opinions from other sources?  What other sources? 


  9. Swami  •  Feb 14, 2018 @1:52 pm

    Does he really defend them?

    Well, I would think that when Trump qualified the allegations of abuse against Porter or any abuser as being "mere" he's throwing up a defense of abuse. He's minimizing the seriousness and nature of abuse.

  10. pluky  •  Feb 14, 2018 @6:26 pm

    " I challenge anyone who doesn't think she's a proficient liar to churn out the amount of lies that Kellyanne has without a slip up."

    It's like the Olympic figure skater or gymnast who bobbles a landing, but out-points someone who executed a flawless program. One must factor in the degree of difficulty, and boy does she have a difficult program to spin!


  11. Bonnie  •  Feb 14, 2018 @6:34 pm

    Fox news and all the other right wing media are equivalent to Tokyo Rose.

  12. goatherd  •  Feb 15, 2018 @8:39 am

    I'm still trying to shake the cobwebs out of my head after a  poor night's sleep,  so please take that into account.

    A bit too early in the morning, I found myself making conjectures about Kellyanne Conway's world view.  It entails a world where truth is a meaningless concept, a world of "alternative facts."  The frightening thing is that she may be right, at least to the extent that nearly half of our countrymen seem to live in the world as she sees it.  As ridiculous and scurrilous as she may seem, you can't argue with results.  She gazed through the mirror into Bizarroworld and she understood how to exploit it, where we only saw chaos.

    I used to get a laugh when I'd see a car with  a "united we stand" bumpersticker next to one with a confederate battle flag.  But, I failed to foresee the birthing of a world where those sentiments are not contradictory.  In a tribal world they are not in opposition because their truth value is secondary, even inconsequential.  They are shibboleths, emblems of tribal membership.  Can you say that a tattoo is true or false?

     Tribal thinking has advanced to the degree that seemingly unrelated, but emblematic beliefs are strongly linked.   If someone believes that they should be able to carry a gun any time and anywhere, you can predict how they feel about climate change, gay marriage, Black Lives Matter and taking a knee.  There is no rational connection, because the process that bound those issues together is non-rational.  With apologies to Eliot, it was the "mixing of fear and desire."

    I've already rambled on too long, so I'll just offer one last observation regarding the contradictions between the Christianity that Pope Francis represents and the Christianity of evangelicals.  Christianity was a tribal religion that became a worldwide religion.  Evangelicals have revived the tribal form.

    I wish I could be more optimistic, but, I am not sure that there is a  comforting way out of our situation.  Nearly half of us have gone insane.  The degree of animosity is frightening.  Consider that if Trump supporters hold a rally, the KKK and Neo-Nazi groups can show up and no one bats an eye.   But, if one of their fold ever sided with Nancy Pelosi or any other prominent Democrat, the Trumpsters would be apoplectic.