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Trump says he's 'totally opposed' to domestic violence as House launches Porter investigation  3 Months ago

Source:   USA Today  

WASHINGTON — President Trump said Wednesday he's "totally opposed" to domestic violence Wednesday, giving his strongest statement on the matter since the scandal involving former White House staff secretary Rob Porter eight days ago. 

"I am totally opposed to domestic violence of any kind. Everyone knows that, and it almost wouldn't even have to be said," he told reporters.

Trump's comments came hours after the Republican chairman of the House Oversight Committee launched an investigation into how Porter was able to handle the most sensitive and classified documents to reach the president's desk for more than a year — without a permanent security clearance. 

Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., wants to know who in the White House knew about the allegations of domestic violence raised by Porter's two ex-wives during a routine FBI background check last year. Gowdy sent letters to White House Chief of Staff John Kelly and FBI Director Christopher Wray, asking for a complete timeline of the process.

"The committee is investigating the policies and processes by which interim security
clearances are investigated and adjudicated within the executive branch, and the extent to which any security clearance issued to Porter comported with those policies and processes," Gowdy said in the letters.

Gowdy pointed to conflicting accounts of the timeline of Porter's clearance from Wray, who testified to the Senate Tuesday that the background investigation was completed in July, and White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, who said the process was "ongoing" and "hadn't been completed" when Porter left his job.

The White House declined to discuss the House investigation, and delayed a daily press briefing three hours before canceling it because of the school shooting in Florida.

Trump's own response to the Porter's resignation has been largely supportive of his former aide. Last Friday, he said he was surprised by the allegations, but that "we certainly wish him well and it's a tough time for him." And then on Saturday, he lamented that a "mere allegation" could shatter the life and career of someone who may be falsely accused, asking in a tweet: "Is there no such thing any longer as Due Process?"

More: FBI and White House have conflicting timelines on Rob Porter background check

The top Democrat on the oversight committee, Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., called the letters a "first step," but said the committee also needs to investigate security clearances for former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, who has been convicted of lying about his contacts with the Russian ambassador, and for Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner, who maintains an interim security clearance.

"It is no secret that I have been extremely frustrated that our committee has done nothing over the past year to address the completely dysfunctional security clearance system at the White House, despite my many requests," Cummings said.

House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., said Wednesday that Gowdy was "doing his proper job" by looking into the process by which Porter was given an interim clearance.

"I mean, come on, clearly we should all be condemning domestic violence," he said. "And if a person who commits domestic gets in the government, then there's a breakdown in the system. There's a breakdown in the vetting system and that breakdown needs to be addressed."

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