ADDS WHITE HOUSE COMMENTS IN GRAFS 7-8
By Michael Hernandez
WASHINGTON (AA) - The head of the FBI on Tuesday contradicted the White House’s timeline of a former top President Donald Trump administration official's security clearance process, saying the bureau concluded its background investigation into Rob Porter long before he resigned.
Christopher Wray told the Senate intelligence committee the bureau completed its investigation late last July before submitting the results of a follow-up investigation in November. Porter's file was administratively closed in January, according to Wray.
"Earlier this month we received some additional information and we passed that on as well," he said.
That is a sharp departure from the sequence of events laid out by the White House.
Porter resigned last week from his post as Trump's staff secretary amid allegations of spousal abuse from two of his ex-wives.
The White House has maintained the security clearance process was ongoing at the time of Porter's departure with spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders saying Monday "the White House had not received any specific papers regarding the completion of that background check."
Seeking to clarify its version of events, Sanders told reporters that the White House Personnel Security Office was still evaluating Porter's clearance when he left.
“The White House Personnel Security Office, which is staffed by career officials, may have received information, but they had not completed their process and made a recommendation to the White House for adjudication,” she said after a reporter asked if the White House had received the information Wray described.
Porter was one of up to 40 White House staffers reportedly operating on an interim security clearance.
CNN reported Tuesday he was in "serious discussions" about a promotion at the time of his resignation, and White House Chief of Staff John Kelly was aware about the allegations from Porter's wives.
Sanders maintained Kelly did not know of the allegations.
Dan Coats, the Director of National Intelligence, told lawmakers the background check process is "broken" and in need of a major overhaul.
"The process is broken. It needs to be reformed," he told the Senate Intelligence Vommittee. "We have 700,000 back-ups, so we have situations where we need people in places but they don't yet have that."
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