After the Rob Porter scandal rocked the nation when it was disclosed that allegations of wife-beating by both of his ex-wives was preventing him from getting a security clearance for the White House Staff Secretary job he’d been holding for over a year, Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC), the chairman of the House Oversight Committee, somewhat surprisingly called for an investigation.
Gowdy, who was the bulldog attached to Hillary Clinton’s leg during the practically endless Benghazi investigations, was seen as such a partisan player that the call for an investigation into a Republican administration was considered unusual, to say the least, and underlined how serious the security breaches at the White House have been.
Now the White House has missed the deadline for providing information to Gowdy’s committee and is refusing to cooperate with their investigation, according to a report on Talking Points Memo.
“White House Director of Legislative Affairs Marc Short sent a letter to House Oversight Committee Chairman Trey Gowdy (R-SC) and ranking member Elijah Cummings (D-MD) politely neglecting to cooperate with their demands for information on how and why Porter was allowed to continue to work as White House staff secretary, a senior position, for months after the FBI had informed senior White House staff of allegations of spousal abuse,” TPM’s Cameron Joseph wrote.
Short’s letter claims that the Trump administration “would be pleased to update you and others on the progress of the working group at the appropriate time,” ignoring the committee’s demand for details on the White House’s security procedures in place from the start of the administration until Porter was removed from his post, and on exactly who in the administration knew about Porter’s situation, and when.
The story told by the White House has shifted from the initial statement told by Sarah Huckabee Sanders, that the administration didn’t know about the abuse allegations against Porter until just a few days before he was fired last month. FBI Director Christopher Wray demolished that lie when he testified that the White House had been told of the allegations multiple times over the past year.
Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD), the top-ranking Democrat on the House Oversight Committee, called the administration’s response “completely inadequate” and asked Gowdy to either subpoena the information from the White House or give up his leadership position on the committee.
“There is an obvious pattern here. Unfortunately, by repeatedly backing down, the Committee has now enabled and emboldened the White House to openly defy congressional oversight,” Cummings said in a letter to Gowdy. “It is now clear that the White House will not respond to this Committee unless it is compelled to do so.”
With the White House claiming that it has revised its security clearance procedures and hoping that everyone will heed its admonition to “move along, there’s nothing to see here,” it will be interesting to see whether Gowdy will treat this scandal with the same tenaciousness with which he pursued Hillary Clinton.
Gowdy must be nostalgic for the days when there was only a single scandal dominating the news cycle, and it involved the opposing party. Now, there’s a new scandal every day, and it is so difficult for the House Oversight Committee to stay on top of all of them. No wonder Gowdy has decided not to run for re-election.