FBI Alerted the White House to Rob Porter Red Flags Nearly a Year Ago

Christopher Wray undercuts the White House spin on what it knew about domestic violence allegations against the ex-aide.

Yin Bogu/ZUMA

The FBI informed the White House nearly a year ago about issues in a top aide’s past that were preventing him from obtaining a security clearance. 

Testifying before the Senate Intelligence Committee on Tuesday, FBI director Christopher Wray contradicted statements by the White House concerning when it learned about the domestic violence allegations against White House staff secretary Rob Porter, who resigned last week after his two ex-wives accused him publicly of verbal and physical abuse. 

The scandal has prompted alarm over Porter’s role in handling classified information, despite lacking a full security clearance to do so.

“The FBI submitted a partial report on the investigation in question in March and then a completed background investigation in late July,” Wray told the Senate intelligence panel. “Soon thereafter we received a request for follow up inquiry and we did the follow up and provided that information in November and that we administratively closed the file in January. Earlier this month we received some additional information and passed that along as well.”

Wray expressed confidence that the FBI had followed established protocols for Porter’s background check.

Chief of staff John Kelly, who initially released a statement supporting Porter, and White House counsel Don McGahn have been under intense fire over their handling of the accusations. The White House has claimed it initially heard from the FBI concerning Porter’s clearance in July and it has maintained the bureau’s investigation into Porter was ongoing. According to Wray, the FBI’s investigation was in fact closed last month.


The more we thought about how MoJo's journalism can have the most impact heading into the 2020 election, the more we realized that so many of today's stories come down to corruption: democracy and the rule of law being undermined by the wealthy and powerful for their own gain.

So we're launching a new Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption. We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We'll publish what we find as a major series in the summer of 2020, including a special issue of our magazine, a dedicated online portal, and video and podcast series so it doesn't get lost in the daily deluge of breaking news.

It's unlike anything we've done before and we've got seed funding to get started, but we're asking readers to help crowdfund this new beat with an additional $500,000 so we can go even bigger. You can read why we're taking this approach and what we want to accomplish in "Corruption Isn't Just Another Scandal. It's the Rot Beneath All of Them," and if you like how it sounds, please help fund it with a tax-deductible donation today.

We Recommend


Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.


Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.