WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Representatives Pramila Jayapal (D-WA), Ted Lieu (D-CA), Jamie Raskin (D-MD) and Brenda Lawrence (D-MI) sent a letter asking White House Chief of Staff John Kelly to explain when he had knowledge of the allegations of domestic abuse by White House Staff Secretary Rob Porter and the actions he took given that knowledge. According to reports, Mr. Porter’s alleged abusive behavior was the reason he was unable to secure a permanent security clearance, yet apparently Mr. Kelly defended him, promoted him, and urged him to stay.
In the letter, the members write:
We are especially troubled by reports that after the Federal Bureau of Investigation learned of Mr. Porter’s abusive behavior and the protective order last year and reported it to the White House, you and other Administration officials decided to keep him on the White House staff. We are also appalled by your dismissive statement, following the first reports of abuse allegations, that Rob Porter is a “man of true integrity” and that you were “proud to serve alongside him.” According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, “More than 10 million Americans are victims of physical violence annually.” Furthermore, “20 people are victims of physical violence every minute in the United States and 76 percent of intimate partner physical violence victims are female; 24 percent are male.” The alleged behavior exhibited by Mr. Porter has no place in our society. It is a stain on the White House and an insult to all of the women and men who have been victimized by domestic abusers.
Finally, Mr. Porter’s behavior – which resulted in his inability to obtain a permanent security clearance – signals a breakdown in operational security as well as moral integrity. Federal law enforcement sources indicate that Mr. Porter was unable to obtain a permanent clearance because of allegations of domestic violence levied against him by his two ex-wives.
As White House Chief of Staff, you are intimately involved in the hiring and subsequent management of senior level presidential personnel. As such, we respectfully request responses to the following questions:
When did you learn of the allegations that Mr. Porter had abused one or both of his ex-wives?
After you learned of these allegations, did you take any steps to remove or suspend Mr. Porter from the White House staff?
At any point after you learned of these allegations, did you encourage Mr. Porter to remain on staff?
At any point after you learned of these allegations, did you offer Mr. Porter a promotion or expand his responsibilities?
Were you aware that Mr. Porter was unable to obtain a permanent security clearance, or was not in possession of a permanent clearance during his time at the White House?
Why was Mr. Porter allowed to handle and view our nation’s most sensitive materials without a permanent security clearance?
Everything about these troubling reports violates American moral values, ethical principles, and core tenets of national security. It is imperative that Congress and the American people construct a clear timeline of events in order to preserve the integrity of the Office of the President.
Read full text of the letter here.
Issues: Government Reform & Ethics