The hosts of “Fox & Friends” on Tuesday pressed a White House spokesperson over the Trump administration’s failure to vet two former staffers who left amid allegations of domestic abuse.
White House staff secretary Rob Porter kept his job until allegations of his domestic violence were published in the press, despite the White House reportedly being notified by the FBI of the allegations made by Porter’s two ex-wives and an ex-girlfriend. Another White House staffer, David Sorenson, who worked under senior policy adviser Stephen Miller, resigned Friday amid allegations of domestic violence.
Interviewing White House spokesperson Raj Shah Tuesday, “Fox & Friends” co-host Brian Kilmeade asked: “What is going on behind the scenes in terms of FBI background checks that might change the staff this week?”
Shah dodged: “Well again, the FBI background check process is one that, again, the FBI runs, and we are a part of it,” he said. “It is operated throughout the federal government. It goes across agencies, and it’s been used from previous administrations, and will be used in future administrations. If any changes need to be made, we’ll look at that, but, you know, this is a process that we trust.”
“Raj, did you change anything?” Kilmeade interjected. “You relied upon it and you got burned because you had a two-time accused domestic abuser there at very sensitive position where perhaps he shouldn’t have been had that been fully exposed. So what changes now?”
It was a notably pointed line of questioning from the President’s favorite morning show, whose hosts normally step delicately into criticism of the White House. On Monday, they pressed another White House spokesperson, Hogan Gidley, on the same topic.
“I appreciate that point,” Shah replied Tuesday, without addressing it. “But we also need to look at the process and how it’s worked on historically. If changes need to be made, we’ll look at that and review the processes. But right now we do trust the process. It has been used time and again for decades to protect our national security, and we trust the FBI in these processes.”
“Raj, there’s a story out that somebody at FBI told somebody at the White House back in November that this guy was a problem,” co-host Steve Doocy asked. “Do you know who that person might be?”
“That is not accurate,” Shah replied. “The FBI would not give a background check investigation directly to senior White House officials.”
“It goes to a security office where then it is relayed, maybe up the chain, maybe not. But what we know about Rob Porter specifically, and that’s the incident that everybody is talking about, is that his background check investigation had not been completed yet. It was still in the investigative process and had yet to be adjudicated. So prior to an adjudication, the White House is not going to step into the middle of a process and short circuit it. These investigations are complex. They’re lengthy for a reason. We need to get it right.”
The remarks echoed President Donald Trump’s on Twitter, made in response to the resignations from his staff, that “Peoples lives are being shattered and destroyed by a mere allegation.” Neither Trump, nor Shah, mentioned the victims of domestic violence in their defense of the White House.
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