It’s day seven of the Rob Porter scandal, and the White House is still pointing fingers.
The controversy stems from when exactly the White House knew about allegations of domestic abuse from two of former White House aide Rob Porter’s ex-wives. After repeatedly blaming “law enforcement and the intelligence community” for discrepancies in the handling of Porter’s security clearance, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders named a new scapegoat on Tuesday: the White House Personnel Security Office.
Sanders’ shift was likely spurred by FBI Director Christopher Wray’s testimony in front of the Senate Intelligence Committee on Tuesday. Wray said that his agency had completed its background investigation of Porter in July — a full seven months before he was forced out of the White House.
Since the scandal first broke on Feb. 6, however, the White House has maintained that Porter’s security clearance process was “ongoing.” Even White House Chief of Staff John Kelly said he was “shocked by the new allegations” and only became “fully aware” when photographs of the alleged abuse surfaced.
When grilled by reporters later on Tuesday over the discrepancy, Sanders shifted the blame from the FBI, as she had previously contended, to the Office of Personnel Security. The office, which is part of the White House, has never been a focus of the timeline before.
“The FBI portion was closed,” Sanders told reporters. “The White House personnel security office, who is the one that makes the recommendation for adjudication, had not finished their process and therefore not made a recommendation to the White House.”
In a statement on Monday, the FBI had corroborated the role of the office.
“After the FBI has completed a background investigation, it provides the information to the client agency adjudicator authority, who determines whether to grant or deny the security clearance,” the statement read.
Cover image: White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, left, and White House Staff Secretary Rob Porter, walk to the White House as they arrive on the South Lawn, Monday, Aug. 14, 2017, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)