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OpinionEditorial

Porter scandal produces a litany of shame at the White House

Then-White House staff secretary Rob Porter, left, and

Then-White House staff secretary Rob Porter, left, and chief of staff John Kelly outside the White House on Aug. 4, 2017. Photo Credit: AFP / Getty Images / Saul Loeb

In testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee Tuesday, FBI Director Christopher Wray exposed the lies coming from the White House about former staff secretary Rob Porter. Wray said the FBI first told the White House about issues with Porter’s security background check 11 months ago, contradicting the timeline the White House offered and making it clear Porter should have been long gone.

When allegations surfaced that Porter physically abused both of his ex-wives, the White House rallied around him. On Feb. 6, chief of staff John Kelly issued a statement calling his employee “a man of true honor and integrity.” Then, after pictures of one of Porter’s ex-wives surfaced showing her with a black eye that she alleges came from Porter, Kelly changed tacks, saying he was shocked by the allegations.

But it’s clear the White House had a preliminary assessment of Porter that included the documented assertions last March and a complete one in July, and that Kelly has known for some time. Yet Porter was in line for even more responsibility — and was just one of 30 to 40 White House staffers with access to top-secret documents despite having only interim security clearance. And a third woman, an ex-girlfriend of Porter’s who also works in the Trump administration, reportedly told the White House chief counsel that Porter had beaten her, too.

So much here is disturbing. A serial abuser should not be in this job. The White House should follow established practices on requiring security clearances. When the story broke, warring factions of officials lied immediately, reflexively and contradictorily. It is disappointing that, faced with the accusations, Trump has defended Porter and refused to take any kind of a stand on violence against women.

It’s a thoroughly nonpartisan disgrace. 

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