Gowdy: House Oversight has launched investigation into Porter

The House Oversight Committee is now investigating how former White House staff secretary Rob Porter kept his role in the administration even as accusations of domestic abuse were made against him, according to Rep. Trey GowdyHarold (Trey) Watson GowdyDem lawmaker calls on House to subpoena American translator from Trump-Putin meeting The Hill's Morning Report — Trump isolated and denounced after Putin meeting Ryan: 'The president must appreciate that Russia is not our ally' MORE (R-S.C.), the panel's chairman.

Gowdy sent a letter on Wednesday to the White House demanding to know how Porter was allowed to work without an interim security clearance, despite being accused of domestic violence.

Gowdy separately sent a letter on Wednesday to FBI Director Christopher Wray seeking clarity on how the bureau investigates and issues interim security clearances. Gowdy also asked when the FBI notified the White House of any underlying issues with Porter's background check, which has become a source of controversy.

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Wray testified to a Senate panel on Tuesday that the FBI completed its background check investigation of Porter in July, and then offered additional information in November and January.

Yet Porter did not lose his job until photos surfaced last week of his first ex-wife, Colbie Holderness, with a black eye she said she got from her husband during a vacation in Italy.

Another ex-wife, Jennie Willoughby, has also gone public with allegations of physical and emotional abuse. 

The White House has said it did not know of the seriousness of the allegations against Porter until published reports last week, though Wray's testimony suggests people at the White House should have been aware much earlier.

Asked directly on CNN's "New Day" if this committee would launch a probe, Gowdy said, “We did last night.”

Gowdy was unclear as to the nature of the investigation, saying at one point it could be called official or unofficial.

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“What matters to me is that we are directing inquiries to people that we think have access to information we don’t have," said the chairman, who is retiring at the end of this Congress.

"You can call it official, you can call it unofficial, those words don’t mean anything to me. What means something to me is I’m going to direct questions to the FBI that I expect them to answer,” Gowdy said.

White House chief of staff John KellyJohn Francis KellyMORE has been at the center of the storm. He initially defended Porter, and the White House reportedly worked with some reporters to have Porter get his side of the story out publicly before deciding he should exit the administration.

Gowdy also sent a letter Wednesday to Kelly, asking him when the White House knew of any "potential derogatory or disqualifying information" about Porter.

On Tuesday, President TrumpDonald John TrumpIran claims it rejected Trump meeting requests 8 times ESPY host jokes Putin was as happy after Trump summit as Ovechkin winning Stanley Cup Russian ambassador: Trump made ‘verbal agreements’ with Putin MORE did not respond when asked if he had a message for victims of domestic violence. He has offered public sympathy for Porter.

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders at a daily briefing on Tuesday suggested a White House office manned with career staff had yet to sign off on the FBI's background check, and that this was how Porter was allowed to work in the building. 

Gowdy said Wednesday he’s “troubled by almost every aspect” of the situation surrounding Porter.

“I spent two decades believing women and children who alleged abuse, even sometimes when no one else did,” Gowdy told CNN, referring to his time as a prosecutor.

“So whether or not there’s a security at issue or not, I have real issues about how someone like this could be considered for employment whether there’s a security clearance or not,” Gowdy said.