Former White House Staff Secretary John Porter has been a wife beater for some time. He abused both of his ex-wives before he became Staff Secretary in the Trump White House. Trump’s Chief of Staff, John Kelly, almost certainly knew that there was an issue, but apparently didn’t care.
As Trump’s White House Staff Secretary, Porter was in charge of the handling of all documents that cross the President’s desk. That includes the handling of all top-secret documents. He has the ability to read and review the documents to ensure their authenticity and accuracy, and to make sure they are proper and in order for the president. It is imperative that the person holding this position passes and holds the highest security clearance. John Porter never received his permanent security clearance. He has been handling top-secret documents in the White House for over a year without having passed scrutiny.
The FBI is charged with performing background checks for security clearances. While an investigation is taking place, it is common procedure for the White House to grant temporary security clearance until the full report is completed.
In January of 2017, around the time Trump took office, the FBI acquired the photos of Porter’s ex-wife and her bruised face and black eye. It didn’t take long for the FBI to inform the White House of their findings.
FBI Director Christopher Wray testified that the FBI shared its initial findings with the White House in March of 2017. They provided a full report in July. Not happy with the findings, the White House asked the FBI to pursue the matter further. The FBI did additional follow up and provided that information to the White House in November 2017. With no further communication, the FBI closed the file in January 2018.
White House Spokesperson Sarah Huckabee Sanders has stated that the White House has followed the same procedures in granting security clearances as previous administrations. However, an official who served in the Obama administration stated: “If we had allegations by a former spouse of domestic abuse, that would have been immediately disqualifying.” It wasn’t disqualifying for John Kelly or the Trump administration.
As Chief of staff, it is John Kelly’s responsibility to supervise all matters relating to White House Staff. It would be Kelly’s responsibility to ensure that staff entrusted to handle all top-secret documents have the proper credentials and security clearances. Kelly would have known when he took over as Chief of staff in July that the FBI had a problem with Porter, and he would have had full access to the report. Kelly has not stated he didn’t know about the FBI findings, to do so would indicate gross incompetence on his part.
If there was a known issue with a staff member not being able to pass security clearances, Kelly, along with White House Council would need to address it. In this case, there was a clear issue with Porter’s FBI file known to the White House in July. In November, knowing that his staff could not pass FBI scrutiny, Kelly and the White House were content to continue with the temporary security clearance.
In all likelihood, previous administrations would have immediately disqualified Ported for security reasons and would have replaced him. When the allegations first became public, Kelly said Porter was a man of “true integrity”. Knowledge of the wife beatings apparently did not influence Kelly’s opinion of his Staff Secretary.