The White House can’t escape its Rob Porter problem.
More than a week after allegations of domestic violence against each of his former ex-wives surfaced against the now-former staff secretary, FBI Director Christopher Wray laid the issue of Porter even more thoroughly at doorstep of President Donald Trump’s West Wing.
“Wray said … that the bureau completed its background investigation of former White House staff secretary Rob Porter last year, contradicting the White House’s assertion that the FBI ‘process’ was ongoing,” POLITICO’s Martin Matishak and Josh Gerstein report.
Speaking to the Senate Intelligence Committee, Wray’s testimony created a fresh furor around the domestic violence accusations levied at Porter, the influential former staff secretary. The result? The White House and chief of staff John Kelly in particular are once again on the defensive.
There were also fresh details today about how the White House handled Porter’s departure and how Porter himself sought portray it. As POLITICO’s Eliana Johnson reports, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders and other aides attended an off-the-record meeting with Porter and four correspondents.
Porter said he was planning to resign — and denied abuse allegations and offered an explanation for photos of one of his ex-wives with a black eye, saying it was an accident.
“The meeting, at which Porter also conceded calling his second wife ‘a f***ing bitch,’ was arranged by Sanders as the scandal mushroomed on Feb. 7 and seen by one participant as an effort to give Porter a chance to defend himself while letting the White House distance itself from him by not speaking on his behalf.”
At the same meeting, staff did not deny that Chief of Staff John Kelly wanted Porter to stay.
Elsewhere in President Trump’s orbit:
HALL PASS: An official on President Trump’s National Security Council has launched a podcast. Rear Admiral Gary Hall’s first episode is entitled “Leadership, Fitness and Sex.”
DACA DOA?: Senate debate on immigration seemed to quickly stall and President Trump warned that March 5 will be the last chance for Democrats and others to do something about Dreamers.
RUSSIAN TO DO IT AGAIN: Intelligence chiefs on the Hill said that Russia is intent on disrupting and interfering with U.S. elections again.
STILL DIDN’T GET THE MEMO: Democrats continue to wait for answers about their counter memo — after the White House said some changes might make it publishable.
NAKASONE’S THE ONE: President Trump nominated Lt. Gen. Paul Nakasone, the leader of the Army’s digital warfighting arm, to helm the National Security Agency.
DEBT THREAT: Speaking on the Hill, Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats raised the specter of federal deficits and debt as a national security threat.
BOX LUNCH?: Preisdent Trump is pitching a plan that would replace foodstamps with a box of non-perishable, government picked foods each month.
There you have it. You’re caught up on the Trump administration. Tuesday is in the books.