Rob Porter situation creating new divisions in White House, adviser says


The White House is in damage control Wednesday morning as new FBI testimony poked holes in the West Wing's timeline of events leading to top aide Rob Porter's resignation. FBI director Christopher Wray told Congress that a background check of President Trump's staff secretary was finished before Porter resigned over allegations he abused his ex-wives.

Hours later, the White House said that "career officials" within the executive office were aware of issues with Porter's background check as early as last November but top advisers to the president were not told about the severity of the allegations until alst week. 

Coming apart at the seams is the description of the West Wing from a top White House adviser. The reason? The deepening sense from some senior officials that even inside, the truth isn't being told about the Rob Porter situation - creating new divisions and a sense of mistrust. Meanwhile, President Trump appears indifferent to the issue of domestic abuse and the turmoil it has caused inside his own White House.

The White House maintains it did not know the full extent of allegations against Porter before the story broke last Wednesday.  But according to the FBI's timeline, it submitted a partial report in March of last year, completed its background investigation in late July, followed up with additional information in November and closed its file on Porter last month.

White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders and her deputy Raj Shah have, for days, said the opposite. Sanders again amended her story Tuesday saying the White House personnel security office had received information about Porter from the FBI but had yet to make a final recommendation to senior staff about his security clearance.

The spotlight remained on White House Chief of Staff John Kelly who learned about Porter's alleged behavior last November, but allowed him to keep his job. 

Kelly told the Wall Street Journal the handling of the abuse scandal "was all done right."

President Trump has repeatedly ignored opportunities to condemn domestic violence.

Iowa Republican Sen. Joni Ernst said the president needs to "send a stronger message."

Porter has denied the abuse allegations, but lawmakers like Republican Lindsey Graham wants more answers from Kelly. Graham called on Kelly to come clean about what and when he knew. Speculation continues about possible replacements for Kelly, with Trump loyalists now mentioning top economic adviser Gary Cohn or legislative affairs chief Marc Short.