White House on abuse claims: We could have done better

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A Democratic lawmaker is taking aim at his Republican colleagues following reports that White House Staff Secretary Rob Porter was able to continue to work in the West Wing despite being denied a permanent security clearance due to domestic abuse allegations made against him. Realization about the seriousness of the abuse allegations grew within the White House after The Intercept published an interview with a second ex-wife and a photo of what she said was a black eye inflicted by Porter.

Guthrie then brought up Porter's first ex-wive Colbie Holderness, who accused the former Trump aide of beating her, noting she released an image showing her with a black eye.

Kelly learned some time in the fall that abuse allegations from Porter's ex-wives were holding up his security clearance, but the chief of staff did not act to investigate the matter at the time, according to the Washington Post.

A president's staff secretary typically would be cleared for a level of security called Top Secret Sensitive Compartmented Information, allowing him or her to handle extremely sensitive information, according to a former White House official with knowledge of the process.

Porter, a Harvard law school graduate and former Rhodes scholar whose position required a security clearance and close contact with the president, had not yet been approved for a security clearance because the required background check was still ongoing, White House spokesman Raj Shah said.


"He was curious what I was going to say, he really wanted to know, 'what are you going to tell them, '" she said. Willoughby also said Porter was verbally abusive. "I went back and forth with him for an hour or so about what language I would be comfortable with, and ultimately, the language he asked I wasn't comfortable with".

Jennifer Willoughby spoke in depth about the emotional, mental and on at least one occasion physical abuse she allegedly endured over the course of her relationship with Porter, who on Thursday spent his last day at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

Shah said the White House had not handled its response to the situation as well as it should have, adding: "A lot of us could have done better".

"He [Porter] definitely let me know that I was going to be contacted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation once he was tapped for the White House and he was curious what I was going to say", she said.

Shah said that Kelly only became "fully aware" of the allegations this week.


A White House official said the FBI's findings never reached McGahn himself in June.

The sad fact of the matter is that this White House has no standards for conduct among its employees, because the head honcho is the worst behaved of all of them. Willoughby, a 39-year-old writer and motivational speaker, said she authorized investigators to obtain a protective order she filed in 2010 after he refused to leave her Arlington, Virginia, apartment, in violation of their separation agreement. Porter was angry, she said, that he had still not received his security clearance.

Porter had access to all the information the president had access to - the nation's most important security intelligence and national secrets.

When asked what he had asked her to say, Willoughby responded: 'I don't remember the exact wording, but it was something along the lines of the post does not accurately depict my marriage.


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