Kelly issues memo changing security clearance process after Porter scandal
- Washington (CNN) - White House chief of staff John Kelly, under fire over the White House's handling of domestic abuse allegations against a senior aide, ordered an overhaul of the security clearance process for current and incoming top administration officials.
- Kelly's memo comes just over a week after White House staff secretary Rob Porter resigned after allegations of domestic abuse against him became public.
- White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said earlier this week that the FBI provided the updates to the White House Personnel Security Office, but declined to say whether West Wing officials knew of the allegations of domestic abuse.
- Kelly's memo, which was released by the White House, also amounted to the chief of staff's most public pushback yet of criticism he has faced over revelations that Porter remained on staff for months in spite of the FBI flagging the allegations of domestic abuse to the White House.
John Kelly signs off on a major overhaul of White House security clearance procedures
- Procedures for granting interim top-secret clearances will also be changed, according to the memo.
- Any interim top-secret clearance for people with pending investigations or adjudications since June 1, 2017 or before will be discontinued.
- Kelly also proposed that the significant derogatory information discovered in the background check be reported to the White House in 48 hours.
- The White House was mired in scandal over its security-clearance procedures after former staff secretary Rob Porter faced allegations of domestic and emotional abuse.
- Porter's ex-wives provided photographs of injuries they say they received during the alleged abuse.
- Porter, who had been working with an interim security clearance for over a year, denied the allegations and resigned last week after they became public.
- Kelly's response to the allegations raised suspicion after he made statements that appeared to conflict with the White House's comments on when it became aware of the allegations.
Trump Technology Aide Is Latest to Exit Turbulent White House
- A senior technology aide to President Donald Trump is stepping down, the latest in a growing list of top officials to depart a turbulent White House in recent days.
- Reed Cordish, an ally of Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner, is leaving his post as assistant to the president for intergovernmental and technology initiatives, the White House said Friday.
- Cordish’s departure, reported earlier by the Washington Post, comes as the White House has faced an exodus of high-level staff in recent weeks and a scandal over its handling of domestic abuse charges and security clearances.
- In the past month alone, the administration has seen the departure of its deputy national security adviser, a senior speechwriter, the staff secretary and a special assistant for international energy and environmental policy, among others.
- Staff secretary Rob Porter resigned earlier this month amid accusations he abused his two former wives.
Trump's top White House lawyer is under intense scrutiny as the Rob Porter scandal keeps looking worse and worse
- While the White House insisted the entire episode was handled within a day of the allegations coming to light, FBI Director Christopher Wray testified to the Senate Intelligence Committee on Tuesday that the bureau alerted the White House to problems with Porter's background check months ago.
- An ex-girlfriend of Porter's had also contacted McGahn to tell him that the senior White House aide was unfaithful to her with White House communications director Hope Hicks, who would later be reported to have dated Porter, and that he had anger problems, several people familiar with the conversation told The New York Times.
- John Kelly and Rob Porter.Jonathan Ernst/Reuters But legal experts and former White House officials told NBC News that McGahn would have been alerted quickly about any problems with Porter.
The pressure is on Kelly to put Porter crisis to rest
- Sanders, the source said, had appealed to chief of staff John Kelly and White House counsel Don McGahn -- both of whom were generally aware of the allegations against Porter before he stepped down, making them central players in the scandal -- to brief reporters in order to provide clarity to the situation.
- Speaking privately, many officials say Kelly should be the one to accept the blame in public -- even if there were others inside the White House, such as McGahn or deputy chief of staff Joe Hagin, who are at least as responsible for allowing Porter to remain in his job even after the FBI flagged concerns about his background.
- Though the White House insisted this week that Trump had confidence in Kelly, a source familiar with his mindset says the President is still very much frustrated with his chief of staff, and that the bungling of the Porter scandal only escalated an irritation that already existed.
Ex-wife's photos raise questions about McGahn's role in Porter scandal
- Washington (CNN) - The FBI obtained photos of the bruised face of Colbie Holderness seven days after President Donald Trump's inauguration last year, according to emails obtained by CNN, raising questions about what information White House counsel Don McGahn had at his disposal regarding her ex-husband, Rob Porter.
- But under past administrations, according to sources familiar with the process, if the FBI returned a file to the White House personnel security office with a concern, the clearance lawyers inside the White House counsel's office would have been made aware and provided access to the physical file.
- Porter, who obtained an interim security clearance at the outset of the Trump administration, was concerned about the background check process during his first days in the White House, a source said.
White House aide quit after he was told he wouldn't get full security clearance because he had smoked pot
- It was the third White House resignation within a week which centered on an aide's security clearance.
- The source said the White House counsel's office told Banks he had been denied a permanent security clearance, and could not do his job without one.
- The marijuana use, the counsel's office said, was simply too recent to permit a permanent security clearance.
- In the wake of the Porter firing, several other administration officials may be just as shocked in coming weeks, as the White House struggles to deal with officials who have not been able to qualify for a permanent security clearance for a variety of reasons.
- The source said he was told the administration would still be able to hire him elsewhere and encouraged to apply for jobs that do not require a security clearance.