White House Stonewalling House Oversight Committee Probe into Rob Porter

Government Reform Committee ranking member Rep. Elijah Cummings speaks during a news conference at the U.S. Capitol

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A spokeswoman for the House Oversight Committee, which Gowdy heads, said Friday a five-paragraph letter sent to the panel by White House Director of Legislative Affairs Marc Short was "inadequate" and that "we have communicated to the White House that we expect full compliance", Bloomberg reported.

The White House is facing a March 13 deadline to respond to questions from Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley about how the administration handles interim security clearances and what procedures exist to ensure someone can't operate indefinitely on a temporary clearance.

But after Short's terse letter to the committee Thursday night, it's unclear whether that's enough to push Gowdy to issue a subpoena to the White House, something he has been unwilling to do on a range of other matters despite repeated requests by Cummings.

The South Carolina Republican had announced on CNN last month that the committee would be looking into the White House's handling of Porter's employment.

While it is not unusual for the White House to resist congressional attempts at oversight, especially from the opposing party, Democrats have accused the Trump administration of purposefully ignoring requests for information from the minority.

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The questions stem from how the White House handled clearance issues for Porter, who remained on a temporary clearance for over a year despite the fact that two women told the Federal Bureau of Investigation that he had been physically abusive towards them.

The White House is ignoring a bipartisan congressional inquiry regarding documents about the Rob Porter scandal, prompting the House Oversight Committee's top Democrat to request that the White House be subpoenaed over the matter.

But the White House response, which arrived eight days past Gowdy's deadline, doesn't address those questions and instead points to a February 16 memo from chief of staff John Kelly discussing ways to improve the security clearance process. "The response last night from the White House is an affront to our responsibilities under the Constitution, and it degrades the integrity of our Committee".

He also asked for information about White House clearances, whether the handling of Porter's clearance was consistent with White House standards, when the White House learned of the former staff secretary's background check issues and when his interim clearance was issued.

Gowdy's office declined to comment Friday on whether it would issue a subpoena.

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Cummings is asking Gowdy to subpoena the White House to get answers, though Gowdy isn't going that far yet.

Cummings, however, wrote Friday that the committee has not scheduled any interviews with the White house.

White House Chief of Staff John Kelly, right, and White House Staff Secretary Rob Porter walk the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, Aug. 4, 2017.

Among the actions Kelly ordered is for the FBI, which conducts the background investigations for senior personnel, to hand deliver their reports to the counsel "personally upon completion".

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