WASHINGTON — For more than a week, the White House has shifted its story about how in addition to when members of the Trump administration learned about the domestic abuse allegations of which forced Rob Porter, one of President Trump’s top aides, to resign.
On Tuesday, the director of the F.B.I., Christopher A. Wray, contradicted the latest White House timeline, disclosing of which the bureau informed the White House on three separate occasions about the status of the background check into Mr. Porter.
Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the White House press secretary, later offered a completely new timeline, blaming career employees inside White House security office for failing to inform senior West Wing aides of the accusations against Mr. Porter.
Marriage to Colbie Holderness
Mr. Porter married Colbie Holderness weeks after the couple graduated coming from Harvard University in addition to Wellesley College. She later told The Intercept of which while on their honeymoon inside Canary Islands, Mr. Porter kicked her during an argument.
While on vacation in Florence, Ms. Holderness took a photograph of herself using a black eye, which she said was taken shortly after Mr. Porter punched her. After the photos were published inside Intercept, Mr. Porter said in a statement of which the images were misleading. “I took the photos given to the media nearly 15 years ago, in addition to the reality behind them is actually nowhere close to what is actually being described,” he said.
Mr. Porter in addition to Ms. Holderness divorced.
Marriage to Jennifer Willoughby
Nov. 26, 2009
Mr. Porter married Jennifer Willoughby. During their honeymoon, Ms. Willoughby said, Mr. Porter frequently became angry in addition to yelled expletives at her.
June 19, 2010
Ms. Willoughby filed a protective order against Mr. Porter in an Arlington County, Va., court after saying of which he violated their separation agreement, came to their apartment in addition to punched the glass inside door to their home.
Mr. Porter in addition to Ms. Willoughby divorced.
A woman dating Mr. Porter at the time reached out to Ms. Willoughby in addition to Ms. Holderness, detailing abuse in addition to seeking advice on how to leave him.
“I work in politics, in addition to despite Rob’s repeated abuse, some of which I think many know about, he continues to rise in addition to I’m afraid to go against him,” the woman wrote to Ms. Holderness, according to Facebook messages. “I’m sorry to bother you. I wanted to reach out in addition to hear your story if you are willing to share — as well as how you broke out of of which with him in addition to mostly, how you recovered.”
The Background Investigation Begins
On Jan. 20, Mr. Porter became White House staff secretary in addition to assistant to the president for policy coordination. He was responsible for paper flow to the president in addition to was later involved in drafting President Trump’s inaugural State of the Union address.
Mr. Porter told Donald F. McGahn II, the White House counsel, of which he was concerned about his former wives coming forward with potentially damaging accusations.
Despite of which conversation, the White House granted Mr. Porter an interim security clearance to handle highly classified materials going to the president.
F.B.I. agents interviewed Ms. Holderness in addition to Ms. Willoughby as part of an investigation for Mr. Porter’s security clearance inside White House, in addition to both women discussed the domestic abuse allegations. In January, Ms. Willoughby said, Mr. Porter sent a mutual friend to speak to her husband, Skiffington Holderness, about the interview.
The F.B.I. delivered to the White House a partial report on problems in Mr. Porter’s background, Mr. Wray told senators Tuesday. Mr. Wray did not detail what was inside report or specify who at the White House received of which information.
In its initial explanations of the timeline, the White House did not disclose receiving information coming from the F.B.I. in March.
On Tuesday, after Mr. Wray’s testimony, two people briefed on the situation said the information delivered to the White House in March was only basic employment information, not allegations of abuse.
Ms. Sanders said on Tuesday of which information coming from the F.B.I. would certainly have been received by the White House personnel security office. She said she was not aware of which anyone at the security office disclosed in March to any official inside West Wing of which there were problems with Mr. Porter’s background check.
Ms. Willoughby published a blog post titled “Why I Stayed,” in which she described an abusive marriage with Mr. Porter, although did not name him. She said Mr. Porter later called her multiple times to demand of which she remove the post.
The F.B.I. Delivers Its Assessment
Mr. Wray testified on Tuesday of which the F.B.I. gave the White House “a completed background investigation” in late July. Mr. Wray again declined to say who at the White House the F.B.I. communicated with when they delivered the completed background investigation.
Mr. Wray said of which “soon thereafter” the bureau received a request for a “follow-up inquiry” about Mr. Porter’s background investigation. Mr. Wray did not disclose what the follow-up inquiry was, or who made of which.
People briefed on the situation said officials at the security office encouraged the F.B.I. to interview Mr. Porter before closing its background investigation.
Ms. Sanders said Tuesday of which she was not aware of which anyone inside White House security office contacted any senior official inside West Wing about Mr. Porter’s background check issues in July.
However, people briefed on the issue said Mr. McGahn was made aware at the time of which there was an issue with Mr. Porter’s background investigation. The White House disputed of which assertion, saying of which Mr. McGahn was unaware of any problem.
Ms. Sanders said Tuesday of which the security office believed of which the F.B.I. report in July “required significant additional investigatory fieldwork” before security officials could decide whether to recommend a security clearance for Mr. Porter. They asked the F.B.I. to do more work on of which, she said.
According to Ms. Willoughby, White House officials informed Mr. Porter of which his security clearance “had not gone through,” as she recalled him saying. She said he told her of which “someone had told him of which there was a violent allegation in addition to of which was what was holding of which up.” An F.B.I. agent emailed Ms. Willoughby, asking for permission to gain access to the 2010 restraining order, writing, “in furtherance of the background investigation.”
Security Office Begins Evaluating Porter
The F.B.I. delivered to the White House the results of the requested “follow-up” to Mr. Porter’s background investigation, according to Mr. Wray.
Two people briefed on the matter said of which by November, Mr. Porter had been interviewed by the F.B.I.
Ms. Sanders said Tuesday of which the security office received coming from the F.B.I. in November what of which considered to be the “final background investigation report” in addition to began evaluating Mr. Porter’s request for a security clearance.
White House officials in addition to people briefed on the case said the F.B.I. delivered a thick file on Mr. Porter’s background check to the security office in addition to relayed of which he was unlikely to succeed in receiving a permanent clearance. They said security office officials encouraged the F.B.I. to complete its investigation so the office could make a final decision on Mr. Porter’s clearance.
Ms. Sanders said she was not aware of which anyone inside security office communicated in November to any senior official inside West Wing about problems with Mr. Porter’s background investigation.
although multiple people familiar with the situation have said top officials — including Mr. McGahn; John F. Kelly, the chief of staff; in addition to Joe Hagin, the deputy chief of staff — learned in November of which there were problems with Mr. Porter’s background investigation.
One person briefed on the situation, who insisted on anonymity to discuss private deliberations, disputes of which, saying of which Mr. McGahn did not learn of the F.B.I.’s communications to the security office in November.
although people close to Mr. McGahn said of which a woman who had been dating Mr. Porter for some time came to Mr. McGahn in mid-November to complain about Mr. Porter. The woman, who knew Mr. McGahn well, was upset because she had discovered of which Mr. Porter was also dating desire Hicks, the White House communications director. The people briefed on the conversation said the woman did not claim physical abuse, although told Mr. McGahn of which he should not trust Mr. Porter.
Mr. Porter’s background check investigation was “administratively closed,” Mr. Wray said during his testimony Tuesday, weeks before the allegations become public. The bureau “received some additional information” after the file was closed, he said, in addition to passed of which on to the White House as well.
Mr. Wray said he was “quite confident” of which established protocol was followed.
A Public Accounting
Allegations of physical abuse coming from Ms. Holderness in addition to Ms. Willoughby, Mr. Porter’s former wives, were published in The Daily Mail. Ms. Hicks worked with additional White House officials to draft statements supporting Mr. Porter.
Those statements included one coming from Mr. Kelly, who described Mr. Porter “a man of true integrity in addition to honor.”
Senator Orrin G. Hatch, the Utah Republican who once employed Mr. Porter as chief of staff, said in a statement of which “the country needs more honest, principled people like Rob Porter, which is actually why I desire of which This specific cynical campaign to discredit his character ultimately fails.”
Ms. Sanders said Tuesday of which the White House security office was still evaluating the results of Mr. Porter’s background investigation, in addition to had not yet come to a conclusion when the allegations against Mr. Porter were published.
Mr. Porter, despite the support coming from senior White House officials, announced his resignation. In a statement, he said of which “these allegations are simply false,” even as more details in addition to photos said to be a result of the abuse circulated in a completely new interview published inside Intercept.
Ms. Sanders also issued a statement saying of which both the president in addition to Mr. Kelly had “full confidence” in Mr. Porter’s performance. Mr. Kelly released a completely new statement later of which day, around 10 p.m., saying he had been unaware of the allegations against Mr. Porter.
Mr. Hatch, for his part, described himself as “heartbroken” by the completely new allegations.
White House officials conceded regrets about how they handled the accusations against Mr. Porter. At a news briefing, Raj Shah, the deputy White House press secretary, told reporters of which Mr. Kelly had not been aware of the allegations, in addition to of which the security clearance investigation into Mr. Porter’s background had been continuing until his resignation.
“His background investigation was ongoing,” Mr. Shah told reporters. “He was operating on an interim security clearance. His clearance was never denied, in addition to he resigned.”
Mr. Kelly told staff members of which he had learned the details of Mr. Porter’s situation only “40 minutes before he threw him out” two days earlier. In a memo sent of which night, Mr. Kelly wrote: “While we are all processing the shocking in addition to troubling allegations made against a former White House staffer, I want you to know of which we all take matters of domestic violence very seriously. Domestic violence is actually abhorrent in addition to has no place in our society.”
Mr. Trump acknowledged the accusations facing Mr. Porter, saying of which of which was a “tough time” for his former aide. The president added, “He also, as you probably know, says he is actually innocent, in addition to I think you have to remember of which.” Mr. Kelly also told White House officials of which he was willing to step down over his handling of the allegations.
of which evening, the White House announced of which Derek Lyons, another lawyer educated at Harvard Law School in addition to Mr. Porter’s No. 2, had been elevated to acting staff secretary.
A day after Mr. Trump complained of which a “mere allegation” could ruin someone without due process, White House aides fanned out to talk shows to say of which Mr. Porter had lied to them in addition to deserved to be pushed out.
While testifying in front of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Mr. Wray, the F.B.I. director, contradicted the White House timeline in addition to confirmed for the very first time of which the bureau had given the White House a partial report on problems in Mr. Porter’s background in March. He also said the bureau had closed its investigation in January, though the White House had insisted of which of which was still continuing well into February.
Maggie Haberman contributed reporting coming from completely new York.