How the White House’s Tolerance for Wife-Beaters Exposed That It Was Harboring Counterintelligence Threats

There are a lot of important lessons about the White House’s protection and promotion of Rob Porter even after the FBI informed the White House about his serial wife beating: about White House’s tolerance for conflicts, about John Kelly’s overblown competence. If you haven’t read Dahlia Lithwick’s piece on what it says about society’s response to domestic abuse more generally, absolutely do.

There are also multiple theories about how this all came to light, whether the recent girlfriend who learned of the abuse after talking to the ex-wives about Porter’s philandering made it happen, or whether the FBI did so in the wake of White House involvement in the Devin Nunes saga.

Whatever the answers to those issues, it’s now clear what just or is about to happen.

Last night, the WaPo answered a question that should have been answered at yesterday’s presser. There are dozens of people working in the White House who, like Porter, have not yet received clearance. Starting with the son-in-law that has been remapping the world while under active counterintelligence investigation for shaping policy in a way that may stave off familial bankruptcy.

Dozens of White House employees are awaiting permanent security clearances and have been working for months with temporary approvals to handle sensitive information while the FBI continues to probe their backgrounds, according to U.S. officials.

People familiar with the security-clearance process said one of those White House officials with an interim approval is Jared Kushner — the president’s son-in-law and one of his most influential advisers.

Then Politico provided the other, even more critical piece of this puzzle: FBI already told the White House that Porter and others would not get security clearance. And there are witnesses that Kelly knew about these multiple White House aides and thought they should be fired.

White House chief of staff John Kelly was told several weeks ago that the FBI would deny full security clearances to multiple White House aides who had been working in the West Wing on interim security clearances.

Those aides, according to a senior administration official, included former White House staff secretary Rob Porter, who left the White House on Thursday after reports that he physically and verbally abused his two ex-wives.

The White House chief-of-staff told confidants in recent weeks that he had decided to fire anyone who had been denied a clearance — but had yet to act on that plan before the Porter allegations were first reported this week.

I figure around about noon we’ll learn Jared was one of the others.

Remember: according to Supreme Court precedent, the President has final authority on matters of clearance. So if Trump wants to override the FBI’s determination, he can. Which he might get away with so long as it remained secret, so long as the press didn’t know that a bunch of people were working with the country’s most sensitive information even though the FBI had told the White House it was a very bad idea to let them. And know which ones they were.

But whether through the coincidental timing of a bunch of women refusing to let a serial abuser go on with his life or through orchestration by the Bureau or both, any effort to keep secret that the White House was delaying the obvious counterintelligence choice or even perhaps planning to defy the FBI about it is in the process of being exposed.

Trump is reportedly consulting now with two of the most likely counterintelligence problems, Jared and (on her own right, because of her own dodgy business deals) Ivanka, on a staff shake-up to try to make this problem go away.

Marcy Wheeler is an independent journalist writing about national security and civil liberties. She writes as emptywheel at her eponymous blog, publishes at outlets including Vice, Motherboard, the Nation, the Atlantic, Al Jazeera, and appears frequently on television and radio. She is the author of Anatomy of Deceit, a primer on the CIA leak investigation, and liveblogged the Scooter Libby trial.

Marcy has a PhD from the University of Michigan, where she researched the “feuilleton,” a short conversational newspaper form that has proven important in times of heightened censorship. Before and after her time in academics, Marcy provided documentation consulting for corporations in the auto, tech, and energy industries. She lives with her spouse in Grand Rapids, MI.

79 replies
    • Trip says:

      This administration, all of it, including the entire GOP, have no regard for human rights. What it comes down to are people willing to sacrifice anything not related to their aspiration of a return to the gilded age, but with an authoritarian, racist, misogynist, kleptocratic twist.

  1. Jim White says:

    We deserve the full list of those the FBI denied clearance for, not just Jared. My money is on Elijah Cummings being the one to make the list public. The question is whether it will take him days or weeks to get it done. Other Dems will preen and write VERY STERN letters, but Cummings will get shit done.

    How much damage will get done to national security by this many people who now are in an even worse position to be exploited by operatives?

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      I can’t decide whether the agents investigating that would die laughing or crying.  But I bet Bob Mueller’s people know already.

      • dalloway says:

        Wait, can the articles of impeachment for Drumpf include “mishandling classified information,” the heinous crime they tried to convict  Hillary Clinton of for five years?  That would be some tasty poetic justice.  But maybe I’m understating this.  Maybe, as it appeared in the Oval Office last year, Drumpf has been passing top secret information directly to the Russians, in which case the article of impeachment would be a mite more serious charge, possibly spelled out in the Espionage Act.

  2. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Trump seems to be too much of a coward to grant clearances to all his staff, despite the FBI recommendations not to do so. The exceptions would be Jared and Ivanka. He’d take heat for the nepotism, but I don’t think he could function without them. For everyone else, he would put the problem down to “naivete,” “inexperience,” and the Bureau trying to get even with him. (The Porter case would appear to make that last claim a non-starter. So more shake ups ahead.) Then he’d blame Kelly. Good luck with that; his choices for a replacement are dwindling, and it would be hard for him to find someone so close to his own level.

    Many thanks, Marcy, for connecting the dots so well, and finding them in the first place.

  3. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Pence might be less outrageous, but I’m not sure he’d be more competent at this sort of thing.  The rest of the world would pay him no more heed, probably less, than they do Ronald M’Donald.

    • Trip says:

      I’m not sure he would get away with being “out of the loop” as much while being a sitting president. That seems to be his answer for any shenanigans.

    • NorskieFlamethrower says:

      If Trumpty Dumpty falls off his precarious perch Pence will be right behind him.  And none of this will happen until after the 2018 elections.  There are two groups of frogs bein’ boiled here: one group is the fascists in the White House and the Republican Party and the other is the American people. The slow motion coup and it’s lawful counter coup are in a turtle race and the question is how much damage can the neo-Nazis do before they are forced to flee to Moscow.

  4. Trip says:

    Porter’s friend ‘actively working to quell’ background check issues

    Skiffington Holderness, the current husband of Porter’s first ex-wife, Colbie Holderness, said in an email to the FBI obtained by CNN that he had several conversations with Porter’s friend, Bryan Cunningham.
    The email details those conversations, including one in which Cunningham allegedly reacted positively when Holderness said his wife was not inclined to talk to the FBI regarding Porter’s background check. Cunningham, according to the email, said “that was good,” she was “not obligated” to speak with the FBI, and that they should “bury the past.”

    http://www.cnn.com/2018/02/08/politics/rob-porter-fbi-background-check/index.html

    Um, Skiffington Holderness. LMAO, sorry, this adds a little to the conversation, but a greater degree of funny. Cunningham denied he knew any of it.

    Is it this Bryan Cunningham?  He works for Skeletor?

    https://www.chertoffgroup.com/about-us/senior-advisors/309-bryan-cunningham

  5. Palli Davis Holubar says:

    (Relunctant to enter conversations here that are so far above me, but I can’t help thinking how many ways this poorly administrated trump cadre can serve the GOP establishment or any bad person.)
    How detailed are FBI Reports to the WH on security checks? If these reports are annotated, then some people on the WH staff (incl. those without security clearance, apparently) know “things” about each other & other potential GOP nominees for the trump administration – an Edgar J. Hoover treasure trove.

    • bmaz says:

      Hey Palli. Never feel hesitant to enter discussion here. Don’t let the fact that a few jerks have tested our patience over the years ever deter you. Come, comment and participate. It is a good thing.

      • Palli Davis Holubar says:

        thanks…sometimes I can muster up the courage to ask or comment…but the real pleasure is reading the combinations of thoughts & facts that tie & untie the muddled messes together so deftly.

    • Phil Perspective says:

      How detailed are FBI Reports to the WH on security checks?

       

      My guess is very detailed.  I wouldn’t be surprised if they interviewed family(and ex-) members among a lot of other things.

      • bmaz says:

        I have been interviewed for clearance renewals as to neighbors I barely waive hi to in passing. This is in addition to people I actually really do know. The questioning is thorough.

        • JAAG says:

          Do they bring up your posts here? and I have to ask this, do you then verbally jump off the top rope and dress them down, threatening to kick them out of the neighbourhood and bragging about all the warrants you have quashed.

          You are thorough.

        • emptywheel says:

          You should tell them you’re a blogger. Bc then they’ll never ever interview you, even for someone far closer to you.

  6. Silence Hand says:

    “Hey, I know the whole beating up the ladies thing would normally be kind of a blackmail risk, but he told us all about it and we had a good laugh at happy hour. So, all good”

    • Avattoir says:

      I suspect the conclusion among those inclined like Kelly would be more like, ‘unafraid to discern shortcomings in subordinates, to draw conclusions from those concerning their performance, & to follow up on a timely basis with clarifying & enforcement of standards’.

      • Silence Hand says:

        Oh, totes!  Like, one of Kelly’s warm human qualities is not letting a little wife-beating get in the way of a promising career.  I mean, of a guy who has his whole life in front of him!  Besides, let he who hasn’t done just a little wife-beating throw the first stone, amirite?

        Yeah, you’re right, the WSJ will shortly burnish this whole affair into one of Kelly’s many gold stars.

  7. Palli Davis Holubar says:

    “Remember: according to Supreme Court precedent, the President has final authority on matters of clearance.”
    But it seems, in the case of a trump presidency, the GOP had final authority on clearance.

  8. Fran of the North says:

    Lurker here, thank you to all for your insights.

    Finally, sanity begins to prevail. The travesty of this group of jackals having access to sensitive intelligence is unbelievable. Dumpster et al have no concern for the union. Their only use of intel is to further their own financial interests.

     

  9. pseudonymous in nc says:

    As Josh Marshall noted a few weeks ago, the way that Michael Wolff insinuated his way into the White House demonstrates how easily the Family Business as both campaign and administration could be manipulated:

    It’s chaotic settings with corrupt individuals who always attract spies and grifters looking for an angle and a mark: the desperate and the greedy, the corrupt and the stupid. Similarly, they look for chaos and disorganization.

    Papadopoulos was given a long leash and found lots of helpful people in London. Page was… who knows. Manafort and Gates were known mercenaries. Flynn was trusted and dirty. The situation with Porter seems to be that he was a competent sociopath whose history of abuse was tolerated because his bosses didn’t really give a shit and even if they did, there was nobody to replace him. That’s an obvious security risk.

    Anyway, you had WaPo’s piece (probably sourced via Kelly and allies) throwing McGahn under the bus, and Politico’s sources backing a dump truck over Kelly. A lot of trust issues in that work environment.

    • Trip says:

      Porter has neocon pedigree inherited from his father. I’m sure that appealed to a general.

      Trump thought Wolff would be an onsite Hannity, Official WH Fluffer. Wolff was Bannon’s ghost writer instead. And you’re right about the security issues.

    • orionATL says:

      nice summary.

      josh marshall is right “it’s chaotic settings with corrupt individuals which always attract….”

      i will add this: the more i’ve read about general kelley in the last two months the more i think his background and work history have been badly underinvestigated and ignored.

      from the beginning at dhs i did not like the way ice agents were seriously mistreating immigrants, even more so than under obama’s too tolerant reign. since then little tidbits keep popping up here and there – he apparently was in tune with trump politically and on trump’s/rightwinger’s short list while still in the military. his time as head of southern command involved a cavier attitude to force feeding prisoners on a hunger strike **. he long ignored porter’s history of spouse abuse out of appreciation of what porter could accomplish for him. kelly took a similarly cavalier attitude toward a sexual misconduct trial of a military officer.

      it’s time for the media to give this general a very thorough vetting of his own :)

      **http://www.miamiherald.com/news/nation-world/world/americas/guantanamo/article3601634.html

  10. Bob Blasi says:

    One thing that is odd to me is that it’s highly likely that Porter had some kind of clearance already. It is hard to function as Orrin Hatch’s chief of staff if you don’t, and I know it is fairly common for senior Hill staff to get clearance to view documents and get briefings.

    This makes me wonder if he pulled a Kushner and got caught not being truthful, which is often seen as a much bigger deal than a lot of other issues. I’ve read that they can be fairly forgiving on at least some criminal acts like drug use when they are fully disclosed – otherwise they’d struggle to fill a lot of positions at the NSA and CIA.

    It’s likely that the White House clearance would be at a top level with much more intense scrutiny than what he had with Hatch, and he was caught misrepresenting or omitting his past history on his previous application, and that was what really caused his problem with the FBI.

    • Trip says:

      I’d hazard a guess that Porter would not be the first wife beater in high level government in history. Attitudes were different (well not if you include Kelly, Trump et al) and secrets in personal lives were kept secret.

      From the CNN link, if true, there was a concerted effort by friend(s) of Porter to intercede with ex-wives behind the scenes: on’tday alktay aboutyay ethay eatingsbay. Porter’s father worked with GH Bush, and money, power and neocon privilege has its privileges.

      One glaring change this time is that the administration started a war with the FBI. If you’re going to release private communications/peccadilloes of theirs, expect your own to come to light.

    • JAAG says:

      Correct me if I am wrong, but I believe that Jared is still working with some sort of limited clearance. Maybe it is an interim clearance as well.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        Correct.  Jared, Ivanka and many others in this White House are still, after more than a year, operating on interim clearances.  Secret clearance can take 3-6 months.  Top Secret, twice as long.  TS/SCI longer.  Interviews are wider ranging and more in-depth. The FBI is in charge of the process.

        Normally, the process would be expedited for WH staff, so I would expect shorter times.  Porter’s circumstances, easily ascertainable from interviews with immediate family and public court records, would have been available quickly.  Given his top level access, they would have been reported quickly to the COS. The FBI rarely comments on the process, so those are estimates. The buck stops with him/them and the president. 

        Jared and Ivanka, since they appear still to be operating with interim clearances, must also have problems in their clearance files.

        As has been said, the president can issue whatever waivers he likes.  But someone has to tell him they’re needed, and he has to be willing to take any political criticism from issuing them.  Nobody in this WH seems to want to tell much to Donald.  He seems unwilling to deal with any process – a waive of his imperial hand ought to be sufficient – and equally unwilling to take responsibility when he can pass blame onto others.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Excellent point.  Orrin Hatch might be the longest serving Senator.  His office would have access to all sorts of sensitive information, without which he could not have done some of his committee work.  As Hatch’s COS, I would have expected Hatch to have had TS clearance.

      Even a Secret clearance, fairly routine, should have disclosed public records, such as the restraining order, which should have caused further inquiries to be made.  Which leaves the possibility that Porter’s past has been known around town a  lot longer than he’s been working for the Don, and ignored for just as long.

      Republicans wouldn’t be put off by something as common in high government circles as a Rhodes scholarship.  Bobby Jindal had one, as did, gasp, Bill Clinton.  Bill’s resume didn’t stop anyone from taking a poke at his moral qualifications for high office.

  11. TarheelDem says:

    Trump has decided that the US does not need a classification system to protect secrets but one that protects the political fortunes of Presidents.  And that is why Reality Winner is being tried, in fact.  And being held incommunicado.

    So put the issue of repealing the the classification legislation that has been put in place since World War II.  It keeps too much secret and scofflaws risk actual security while whistleblowers have their live significantly impacted for letting the public know about government misconduct.

    With any other administration I might be open to a reformed classification system.

    • bmaz says:

      Sorry, this is absolutely bogus. While I feel sorry for Ms. Winner, she was a total idiot who not only left a clear trail, but then fessed up immediately without even invoking her rights. There is NO administration that would not be prosecuting her. None.

      • TarheelDem says:

        Of course.

        Even an administration that in its own behavior was just as scofflaw.

        The Republic survived up to the 20th century with very informal means of security (and some legendary security breaches).  As a result of the current classification regime, China knows how bad our F-35 fighter is, the President can leak Israeli secrets, and the espionage act of 1917 can be thrown more routinely than ever at whistleblowers and people who sell secrets for cash rarely get the notoriety that Manning, Snowden, and Winner got.

        I appreciaate your point within the current legal framework.  That framework has ceased to work, especially since the Trump administration.

      • orionATL says:

        bmaz –

        where are you coming from with this vitriol?

        reality winner is a 25-year old who was almost certainly terrified by what she had done. you expect her to act like a seasoned criminal or an experienced criminal lawyer like yourself? –  “she was a total idiot who not only left a clear trail, but then fessed up immediately without even invoking her rights…”?

        you profess to be sorry for this young woman and then call her an idiot for doing exactly what you of all people should know many young people do – confess and yield their rights under the pressure of interrogation – that sounds a bit a heartless to me.

        furtheremore, you ignored what seems to be tarheel dem’s point, which was not that it was unusual that winner would be tried, but that this presidency had an unusual and different motive for trying her based on a seachange in its view of classification compared to past administrations’.

        as matt suggested yesterday, and i am saying today, you are not doing the emptywheel website any favors with your undiscriminating harsh attacks on commenters.

        you might want to consider how your comments appear to the many people who read this site but don’t know its internal psychodynamics, i. e., don’t know you as our lovable old bmaz the grouch.

        • bmaz says:

          You have to be kidding me. This is a blog that tries to be honest and discuss very hard national security, legal and political topics. It is not a place for errant feelings. Say what you will about Reality Winner, and I accept that she meant well, but she was, from the start, a total dope. If the law is to apply to the rest of us, as it must, then it must also apply to your emotional pets like Winner.

          You want to change the law? Great, I am all in favor of that. You want to whine that someone points out where people are under the current law? Thanks, but that is known already.

           

          • NorskieFlamethrower says:

            You are absolutely right on about this Bman and I am very happy to see you representing here. The terribly dangerous civil war going on inside our system of governance makes it impossible for the “good guys” to risk carrying anyone who has clearly broken the law. No, the matter of compassion and arguing for a change in the law must come at sentencing and beyond. Get ’em all and sort ’em out after.

             

          • orionATL says:

            bmaz –

            i gave you some good advice about your all-too-frequent verbal muggings of people who comment here with obvious good intention, to whit,

            “as matt suggested yesterday, and i am saying today, you are not doing the emptywheel website any favors with your undiscriminating harsh attacks on commenters.”

            think it over.

            • bmaz says:

              I’ll tell you what Orion. How about you go back over a decade to when you would not even be here but for my efforts, in many regards, to get you here from TNH. You really want to go here and there? You want to cavalierly play this game? Really? Take a look at your past.

              • orionATL says:

                bmaz –

                the issue i am raising is not the good things you do or have done.

                the issue i am raising is of what could be called a bad habit – brief, harsh verbal scoldings of commenters who are obviously well-intentioned. i’m thinking of comments to space life form yesterday (upon which matt commented) and tarheel dem today.

                remember, when you speak you speak with the authority of the website. it has got to be hurtful to be dressed down for commenting in good faith at emptywheel.

                • snotboogs says:

                  woah. small sample size and all, but here is one piece of feedback from the unwashed masses: came here for Marcy, stayed for bmaz.  So yes, register one confounding data point for your “not doing any favors” theory. If your goal here is to make bmaz better for the sake of the blog. I vote for making him funnier. It seems he could try harder to be a little bit funnier sometimes.

  12. LowdenF23c says:

    Hello all…just discovered this site a couple of months ago. Great articles and great comments.
    I’m a civilian, so to speak, so let me ask a basic question based on comments above. Are Limited or Interim clearances restricted in duration (i.e. horizontally), or the security level of the material (i.e. vertically)? Or both?

    • emptywheel says:

      I’m a civilian too. But they’re supposed to be limited in scope, but Trump can (heh) trump that. The timing is not necessarily limited though.

  13. Trip says:

    Everyone, please stop: PORTER IS SAD.

    “Well, we wish him well. He worked very hard,” Trump said of Porter when asked by reporters about the staff secretary’s resignation this week.
    “I found out about it very recently and I was surprised by it. But we certainly wish him well, obviously a tough time for him,” Trump said at the White House. “He did a very good job when he was in the White House and we hope he has a wonderful, hopefully, he has a great career ahead of him.”
    “But it was very sad when we heard about it, and certainly he’s also very sad now,” he added.
    “He says he’s innocent, and I think you have to remember that. He said very strongly yesterday that he’s innocent. So you’ll have to talk to him about that. But we absolutely wish him well,” Trump continued.

    http://thehill.com/homenews/administration/373158-trump-on-porter-we-hope-he-has-a-great-career-ahead-of-him

    NOT ONE WORD about domestic violence.

  14. Avattoir says:

    This is Really Old School, but FWIW:

    1. I went thru security clearance “numerous” times (in eras when “multiple” meant 2 & “several” 3).

    2. Every time, at least some signs emerged of there having been an investigation (mostly thru family, friends or former school & work contacts).

    3. I wasn’t allowed to handle classified docs until clearance was confirmed to my bosses.

    4. At that, no govt job I was in ever got within 3 levels of a cabinet officer.

    In that light, when I read Fearless Leader’s tweet from this a.m.:

    “It is distinctly possible Kelly protected Porter, among other reasons, bc if he followed thru on his threat to fire those who can’t be cleared (there are witnesses!) more powerful aides would be axed.”

    it gets me wondering how TLF a nazi ratfucker like S. Miller ever got security clearance.

     

    • Rayne says:

      Marvelous how unintentionally efficient Mr. Failed Businessman is; he manages not only to signal there are multiple “more powerful aides” who are opportunities for compromise by hostile entities, but he threatens disclosure at the same time. Sure, sure, we know his son-in-law and his daughter are likely among those aides but I doubt he means them; he’d just use his KFC-flavored pixie dust to liberate his kin from the confines of expectation.

      So who else is “more powerful aides” under the shadow of the axe? What members of Congress have staked their reputations on someone they vouched for in a White House staff role like Sen. Hatch did for Porter?

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        The only thing Donald is efficient at is passing the buck. But I bet he knows all there is to know about why Jared and Ivanka are still using interim clearances.

        And I love how Donald talks as if Gen. Kelly works for somebody besides Donald J. Trump.

  15. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Why is it that when the head of the DNC describes his party’s dismal performance in Congress, he sounds like a disinterested, innocent passerby rather than a player. Is the giveaway in his Freudian slip, when he said, “We’ve got to keep fighting Democrats….”

    Perhaps he should stop repeating that his party hasn’t enough votes. He might win more support if he more forcefully described the racism, xenophobia and nativism in the party that is blocking humane treatment of immigrants. Pollyanna wins only in fiction.

  16. orionATL says:

    given the topic of wife-beaters that engendered this post, i’d like to post an extraordinarily informative piece from vox by interviewer journalist sean illing:

    https://www.vox.com/identities/2017/12/5/16705284/metoo-weinstein-misogyny-trump-sexism

    despite that title, the interview is with philosopher kate manne discussing her thinking on the relagionship between sexism and misogyny.

    i have always felt the the word “misogyny” was awkward to use because literally it means something like “hatred of women” which doesn’t obviously fit most male behavior. manne lays out a use of the words “sexism” and “misogyny” that connects the two with our social structures and gives me leave to use “misogyny” without qualm.

    from kate manne:

    “… There’s a tendency to define misogyny as this deep hatred in the heart, harbored by men towards girls and women. I define misogyny as social systems or environments where women face hostility and hatred because they’re women in a man’s world — a historical patriarchy…

    One way of looking at it is we have these patriarchal social structures, bastions of male privilege where a dominant man might feel entitled to (and often receive) feminine care and attention from women….

    I think of misogyny and sexism as working hand-in-hand to uphold those social relations. Sexism is an ideology that says, “These arrangements just make sense. Women are just more caring, or nurturing, or empathetic,” which is only true if you prime people by getting them to identify with their gender…

    So, sexism is the ideology that supports patriarchal social relations, but misogyny enforces it when there’s a threat of that system going away…

    I think most misogynistic behavior is about hostility towards women who violate patriarchal norms and expectations, who aren’t serving male interests in the ways they’re expected to. So there’s this sense that women are doing something wrong: that they’re morally objectionable or have a bad attitude or they’re abrasive or shrill or too pushy. But women only appear that way because we expect them to be otherwise, to be passive…

    Misogyny is the law enforcement branch of patriarchy. If you think about someone like Donald Trump claiming he’s the law enforcement president, I think that’s right. It’s the law of patriarchy, among other things, that he’s enforcing. It’s the law that polices and punishes women who transgress or threaten dominant men…. ”

    give the article a read.

    • snotboogs says:

      note from a human-

      If (and when) I indulge in the bigoted notion of hating women, it most certainly stems from an underlying well of self loathing. I do not appreciate being confined in this body, compelled to sex and sexual thoughts. Thinking of vaginas for decades on end is a massive and disappointing time-suck.

  17. GKJames says:

    I wonder whether there’s much of a threat. Security clearances try to gage whether someone (i) can be trusted not to disclose classified/sensitive information improperly; and (ii) has something in their background that would make them a blackmail target. With respect to (i), isn’t it likely that security agencies have simply not been giving super-sensitive material to the president’s merry band of non-cleared people? As for (ii), it’s hard to blackmail people who are quite open about the fact that they want foreigners to have access to them, albeit for personal financial rather than policy reasons.

  18. earlofhuntingdon says:

    The security clearance process, originated under J. Edgar Hoover, seems a fairly blunt instrument.  Humdrum behavior – not paying your bills, declaring bankruptcy, cheating on your spouse – can mean you won’t get a clearance. Commit a crime of violence or fraud and you’re right out.  Do things for which you can be blackmailed and forget it.

    The psychology has become more complex, less a function of Hoover’s obsessions.  The theory remains basic: demonstrate through acts that you don’t keep your word or your commitments, violate trust, and you can’t be trusted with government secrets.  For high level clearances, the range of interviews and depth of questions reveal much more.

    Once is happenstance, twice is coincidence, three times is a pattern.  Kicking your first wife on your honeymoon does not instill trust or confidence in your judgment.  The timing is exquisitely cruel.  Abuse your second wife on your honeymoon and it might be coincidence, but counter-intel types don’t believe in it.  They already see an undesirable pattern.  Abuse a recent girlfriend or two and it begins to look like a pattern.  Persuade a BFF and former Company man to chat with your first wife’s husband, suggesting that the past is better buried and that there’s “no obligation” to talk with the FBI about abuse, and the pattern of deception expands to a network.

    For a privileged Ivy Leaguer, that might be required behavior for being hired by the CIA.  But even they don’t like it when you practice it at home.

    Porter’s case is not about the clearance process.  It’s about the old boy net, about normalizing misogyny and violence against women, and about the utter lack of process or respect for the law in this administration.

  19. Trip says:

    Steve Bannon Bam Bam, the former White House chief strategist, is quoted in a new edition of the book “Devil’s Bargain” as sharply criticizing what he terms the “anti-patriarchy movement” 

    “It’s a Cromwell moment!” Bannon is quoted as nearly shouting, referring to the 17th century political leader often characterized as a fanatical dictator. “It’s even more powerful than populism. It’s deeper. It’s primal. It’s elemental. The long black dresses and all that — this is the Puritans! It’s anti-patriarchy.” Bannon, Green wrote, watched Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson as he was watching Oprah Winfrey on stage delivering a politically-charged speech. “He’s ruined his career,” Bannon said, according to Green. “If you rolled out a guillotine, they’d chop off every set of balls in the room.” Bannon went further than that, declaring, “The anti-patriarchy movement is going to undo ten thousand years of recorded history.” “You watch. The time has come. Women are gonna take charge of society,” Bannon said, according to Green. “And they couldn’t juxtapose a better villain than Trump. He is the patriarch. This” — the Golden Globe Awards — “is a definitional moment in the culture. It’ll never be the same going forward.”

    http://money.cnn.com/2018/02/09/media/steve-bannon-times-up-movement-devils-bargain/index.html

      • Trip says:

        In a nutshell (pun intended), a man ain’t a man unless his privileges exceed those of women and they should accept second class citizenry. He just doesn’t have the strength without it. crybaby/sad!

  20. Trip says:

    He says he’s innocent” Donald Trump

    These are some insanely weak explanations. The fact that all in the WH bought them, shows the peril we are in, for lack of good judgement at the top:

    Porter told senior staffers his first ex-wife, Colbie Holderness, received a black eye and facial bruises during an argument as the two struggled over a Venetian glass vase in their hotel room while on vacation in Venice in the early 2000s after they were married. He said that “[Holderness] was ready to throw glass onto the floor to smash and they both lunged for the glass and there was a struggle,” according to two people with knowledge of the account. Porter went on to say that she bruised her eye when she fell during their struggle and denied punching her. He also said that the was first time they had a physical altercation.
    In the case of the restraining order that his second ex-wife Jennifer Willoughby filed against him for allegedly breaking into their house with his fist, Porter said that he was merely tapping the glass pane with his index finger, according to the two people with knowledge of what he shared with senior staff. He returned to the house to collect his clothes, and while tapping the glass door pane with his index finger, his knuckle went through the glass. Porter said he went into the house to wrap up the wound but Willoughby told him to leave, and then she called the police.

    http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/rob-porter-told-white-house-senior-staff-wifes/story

    Why the hell would Porter memorialize a black eye with a photo, if his wife fell on the ground struggling over a vase? What purpose would it serve? Honey, remember on our vacation you gave yourself a black eye falling to the ground, good times/memories, huh? This doesn’t pass the smell test. Additionally, does he have knuckles made of steel, that when tapping a window pane with an index finger, glass broke? He really has a thing for glass.

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