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February 13, 2018

FBI Director Christopher Wray has muddled the White House's official story about the departure of former White House staff secretary Rob Porter. Porter resigned last Wednesday after two of his ex-wives claimed to have suffered years of physical and mental abuse at his hands. The White House initially defended Porter against the allegations and claimed not to have known about them until last week, but Wray called that assertion into question Tuesday during a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing.

Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) asked Wray: "Was the FBI aware of allegations related to Rob Porter and domestic abuse? And if so, when was the White House informed this could affect his security clearance?" The FBI director noted a "limit" to what he could disclose publicly, but said his intelligence agency "submitted a partial report on the investigation … in March" of 2017, and that a background check on Porter was completed by July of last year. He continued: "Soon thereafter we received requests for a follow-up inquiry … and provided that information in November." Wray said that this month the FBI "received some additional information and we passed that on as well," but the investigation officially concluded in January.

Wray's statements seem to contradict the White House's story about the FBI background check. As The Wall Street Journal's Rebecca Ballhaus points out, White House spokesperson Raj Shah claimed the background check into Porter was "ongoing" when the allegations came to light. White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders made the same assertion Monday. Kelly O'Meara Morales