Speed Reads

Rob Porter Scandal

The FBI reportedly had photos of Rob Porter's bruised ex-wife a week after Trump's inauguration

The question of who knew what about former White House Staff Secretary Rob Porter's alleged abuse of his two ex-wives, and when they knew it, continues to dog the White House more than a week after Porter resigned. The FBI, which says it handed the White House an interim report on Porter in March and two more updates in July and November, had photos of ex-wife Colbie Holderness sporting a black eye she said Porter gave her in 2005 by Jan. 27, 2017, just seven days after President Trump's inauguration, CNN reports, citing emails between Holderness and the FBI.

The credible domestic violence allegations, also backed up by a police report, had prevented Porter from getting a security clearance. After FBI Director Christopher Wray scrambled the White House's timeline of when top officials knew about the Porter issues, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders insisted that Porter's background investigation was still ongoing at the White House Personnel Security Office, an obscure White House office she mentioned 12 times on Tuesday's press briefing, by The Washington Post's count. Administration officials suggested that office held the Porter investigation closely, but people who worked on security clearances in past Republican and Democratic administrations found that very improbable.

The idea that White House Counsel Don McGahn learned about the black-eye photo from news reports last week "isn't reasonable," national security expert Mark Zaid told CNN. "I would be surprised that if in their partial report in March, the FBI either didn't include the photo or, at a minimum, reference they had photographic evidence of the domestic assault," he said, and "and I can't fathom it not being part of the completed report" in July. Even if those reports went just to the security office, "the security office routinely flags issues such as drug use, financial problems, or marital infidelity to political higher-ups," The Washington Post reports, especially for someone of Porter's seniority and importance.