Trump: Russia Has Been Hugely Successful in Disrupting US Political Landscape

President Donald Trump in the East Room of the White House, Tuesday, Feb. 13, 2018, in Washington.

President Donald Trump in the East Room of the White House, Tuesday, Feb. 13, 2018, in Washington.

 

President Donald Trump said Sunday he believes Russia has been wildly successful in disrupting the U.S. political landscape with its interference in the 2016 election because of the subsequent months-long investigations it spawned.

"If it was the GOAL of Russia to create discord, disruption and chaos within the U.S.," Trump said in a Twitter comment, "then, with all of the Committee Hearings, Investigations and (Republican) Party hatred, they have succeeded beyond their wildest dreams. They are laughing their asses off in Moscow. Get smart America!"

 

In a string of tweets over several hours, the U.S. leader continued to assail the probe into his campaign's links to Russia.

U.S. National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster warns the 54th Munich Security Conference in Germany, Feb. 17, 2018, that "we meet at a critical time for our nations, and indeed for all humanity."
U.S. National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster warns the 54th Munich Security Conference in Germany, Feb. 17, 2018, that "we meet at a critical time for our nations, and indeed for all humanity."

Trump was also critical of H.R. McMaster, his national security adviser, who said Saturday there was "incontrovertible" evidence of Russian interference in the election, a day after special counsel Robert Mueller charged 13 Russian nationals and three Russian entities with conducting an illegal "information warfare" campaign to disrupt the 2016 presidential election and help Trump win.

"I never said Russia did not meddle in the election, I said 'it may be Russia, or China or another country or group, or it may be a 400 pound genius sitting in bed and playing with his computer,' Trump tweeted. "The Russian 'hoax' was that the Trump campaign colluded with Russia - it never did!"

 

Trump said McMaster "forgot to say that the results of the 2016 election were not impacted or changed by the Russians and that the only Collusion was between Russia" and his Democratic opponent, former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and other Democrats. Trump said McMaster overlooked Democratic funding of political opposition research in a controversial dossier alleging shady Trump links to Russian operatives.

 


Trump sarcastically praised one of his political opponents, Congressman Adam Schiff, the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, for saying that the administration of former President Barack Obama could have done more to thwart overseas cyberattacks after the 2014 hack into the files of the entertainment company Sony Pictures.

FILE - Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., ranking member on the House intelligence committee, speaks to reporters after the committee interviewed former White House strategist Steve Bannon, Feb. 15, 2018, on Capitol Hill in Washington.
FILE - Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., ranking member on the House intelligence committee, speaks to reporters after the committee interviewed former White House strategist Steve Bannon, Feb. 15, 2018, on Capitol Hill in Washington.

"I think that others around the world watched that and determined that cyber is a cost-free intervention," Schiff said in an interview on NBC.

Trump tweeted, "Finally, Liddle’ Adam Schiff, the leakin’ monster of no control, is now blaming the Obama Administration for Russian meddling in the 2016 Election. He is finally right about something. Obama was President, knew of the threat, and did nothing. Thank you Adam!"

 


Trump added, "Now that Adam Schiff is starting to blame President Obama for Russian meddling in the election, he is probably doing so as yet another excuse that the Democrats, led by their fearless leader, Crooked Hillary Clinton, lost the 2016 election. But wasn’t I a great candidate?

 

Trump has long contended that his campaign did not collude with Russia, even as the U.S. intelligence community and now Mueller have concluded that Russia conducted a wide campaign to meddle in the election to help Trump win.

Mueller's indictment of the Russian interests contended that the Internet Research Agency, a St. Petersburg-based social media company with Kremlin ties, 12 of its employees, and its financial backer orchestrated the effort.

FILE - A view of the four-story building known as the "troll factory" in St. Petersburg, Russia, Feb. 17, 2018.
FILE - A view of the four-story building known as the "troll factory" in St. Petersburg, Russia, Feb. 17, 2018.

None of the defendants charged in the indictment are in custody, according to a Mueller spokesman. The U.S. and Russia don’t have an extradition treaty and it's unlikely that any of the defendants will stand trial in the U.S.

The 37-page charging document alleges that the Russian conspirators sought to coordinate their effort with Trump campaign associates, but it does not accuse anyone on the Trump campaign of colluding with the Russians.

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein announces that a grand jury has charged 13 Russian nationals and several Russian entities, Feb. 16, 2018, in Washington.
Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein announces that a grand jury has charged 13 Russian nationals and several Russian entities, Feb. 16, 2018, in Washington.

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein said that the Russian conspirators sought to “promote social discord in the United State and undermine public confidence in democracy.”

The indictment marks the first time Mueller’s office has brought charges against Russians and Russian entities for meddling in the 2016 election.

Mueller’s sprawling investigation has led to the indictments of former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and associate Rick Gates on money laundering charges in connection with their lobbying efforts in Ukraine that predates Trump's 2016 campaign.

Former Trump National Security Adviser Michael Flynn and former campaign foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos have pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about their contacts with Russian officials and are cooperating with Mueller's probe.

In addition to investigating the Russian meddling in the election, Mueller is probing whether Trump has in several ways obstructed justice to undermine the investigation, including his firing of former FBI Director James Comey, who was leading the agency's Russia probe at the time Trump ousted him. Mueller, over Trump's objections, was then appointed by Rosenstein to take over the Russia probe.

Florida School Shooting Survivor Holds Lawmakers Accountable Over Gun Laws

Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School student Emma Gonzalez reacts during her speech at a rally for gun control at the U.S. Courthouse in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., Feb. 17, 2018.

Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School student Emma Gonzalez reacts during her speech at a rally for gun control at the U.S. Courthouse in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., Feb. 17, 2018.

 

"We are going to be the last mass shooting," vowed Emma Gonzalez, a survivor of the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, who spoke at a gun-control rally Saturday, three days after an armed former student killed 17 of her classmates and teachers.

Gonzalez spoke bluntly to her audience, hundreds of people who gathered at the Fort Lauderdale federal courthouse, about 45 kilometers (28 miles) from the suburb where the shooting took place.

"The people in the government who are voted into power are lying to us," Gonzalez said."We are prepared to call B.S. [point out a lie]."

"They say that tougher gun laws do not decrease gun violence," she said. "They say a good guy with a gun stops a bad guy with a gun. We call B.S."

Gonzalez said mental health — a factor President Donald Trump and other authorities had pointed to in their responses to the shooting — was not the main problem; she blamed Florida's lenient gun laws, under which the teenage shooter, Nikolas Cruz, legally purchased his weapon.

"He would not have harmed that many students with a knife," she said.

Protesters hold signs as they call for a reform of gun laws three days after the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, at a rally in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, Feb. 17, 2018.
Protesters hold signs as they call for a reform of gun laws three days after the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, at a rally in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, Feb. 17, 2018.

Gonzalez elicited a strong response from the audience when she mentioned the amount of money politicians take from the National Rifle Association (NRA), a powerful lobbying group. "To every politician who is taking donations from the NRA," she cried, "shame on you."

"Shame on you!" the crowd responded, turning the phrase into a chant.

Gun rally

Meanwhile, about 60 kilometers (37 miles) away at the Dade County fairgrounds, hundreds of gun enthusiasts attended a gun show featuring more than 100 vendors of firearms and accessories.

Show manager Jorge Fernandez told the Reuters news service that the company holding the event, Florida Gun Shows, decided against canceling the show because of financial concerns.

At the show, Adolfo David Ginarte, 30, told Reuters that it would be "un-American" to cancel the gun show because of the mass shooting. "Facts don't care about your feelings," he said. "Things are going to happen. ... This isn't the first time and, unfortunately, it's not going to be the last time."

People holding placards take part in a protest in support of gun control in Coral Springs, Fla., Feb. 17, 2018.
People holding placards take part in a protest in support of gun control in Coral Springs, Fla., Feb. 17, 2018.

Joe Arrington, 29, told Reuters he did not believe more regulation would have stopped the shooting. "I think a lot of agencies didn't do their job necessarily like they were supposed to," he said.

On Friday, the FBI — the top national law enforcement agency — admitted that it ignored a tipoff about the gunman.

“Very sad that the FBI missed all of the many signals sent out by the Florida school shooter. This is not acceptable,” U.S. President Donald Trump tweeted Saturday evening. “They are spending too much time trying to prove Russian collusion with the Trump campaign - there is no collusion. Get back to the basics and make us all proud!”

The agency acknowledged it did not follow “established protocols” after receiving information about the shooter on its national tip line. The FBI said someone with a close relationship to Cruz left information on January 5 about the teenager’s desire to kill people and other disturbing details.

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions responded by ordering an immediate review of how the Justice Department and the FBI respond to warnings about potential mass killers.

President Donald Trump, accompanied by first lady Melania Trump and Dr. Igor Nichiporenko, speaks to reporters while visiting with medical staff at Broward Health North in Pompano Beach, Fla., Feb. 16, 2018.
President Donald Trump, accompanied by first lady Melania Trump and Dr. Igor Nichiporenko, speaks to reporters while visiting with medical staff at Broward Health North in Pompano Beach, Fla., Feb. 16, 2018.

Trump visits with victims

Trump and his wife, Melania, visited Florida on Friday, to meet with law enforcement officials and some of the victims of Wednesday's shooting.

At a Broward County hospital near the scene of the shooting, Trump praised the medical staff who treated the victims, saying, "The job they've done is incredible." He also praised the speed with which first responders arrived at the school. When asked by reporters whether the nation's gun laws needed to be changed, Trump did not respond.

Trump was to spend the long Presidents Day weekend at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, about 55 kilometers (34 miles) from Parkland.

Cruz, who was being held at the Broward County jail without bond, has admitted carrying out the shootings with a semiautomatic AR-15 rifle, according to the county sheriff's office. Cruz, who had been expelled for disciplinary reasons last year from the school, faces 17 counts of premeditated murder.

Special Counsel Investigating US Election Meddling Indicts Russian Nationals

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein announces that a grand jury has charged 13 Russian nationals and several Russian entities, Feb. 16, 2018, in Washington. The defendants are accused of violating U.S. criminal laws to interfere with American elections and the political process.

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein announces that a grand jury has charged 13 Russian nationals and several Russian entities, Feb. 16, 2018, in Washington. The defendants are accused of violating U.S. criminal laws to interfere with American elections and the political process.

 

The special counsel investigating Russian meddling in the 2016 election announced charges Friday against a Russian social media troll company, 12 of its employees and its financial backer in the first indictment brought against Russians allegedly involved in the effort.

The indictment, handed down by a federal grand jury in Washington, alleges that the Internet Research Agency, a St. Petersburg-based company with ties to the Kremlin, orchestrated an audacious campaign to influence the 2016 presidential election in favor of President Donald Trump.

Prosecutors also charged the Internet Research Agency’s alleged financier, Russian businessman Yevgeniy Prigozhin, and two companies he controls.

The indictment says Prigozhin and his businesses provided “significant funds” for the Internet Research Agency’s operations to disrupt the U.S. elections.

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein said that the Russian conspirators sought to “promote social discord in the United State and undermine public confidence in democracy.”

“We must not allow them to succeed,” Rosenstein said at a press conference in Washington.

The conspiracy was part of a larger operation code-named Project Lakhta, Rosenstein said.

“Project Lakhta included multiple components, some involving domestic audiences within the Russian Federation and others targeting foreign audiences in multiple countries,” Rosenstein said.

Special Counsel Robert Mueller, who has made no public statements since his appointment last May, did not speak at the press conference.

Charges against Russian nationals

The indictment charges all the defendants with one count of conspiracy to defraud the United States, three defendants with conspiracy to commit wire and bank fraud, and five individuals with aggravated identity theft.

None of the defendants charged in the indictment are in custody, according to a spokesman for the special counsel’s office.

The U.S. and Russia don’t have an extradition treaty, and it’s unlikely that any of the defendants will stand trial in the U.S.

The indictment provides a detailed account of Russia’s “influence operations” during the elections and alleges that the Russian conspirators sought to coordinate their effort with Trump campaign associates.

Trump took to Twitter after the indictment was announced to again deny his campaign worked with the Russians.

 

The indictment marks the first charges brought against Russian nationals in connection with Mueller’s probe.

Mueller’s sprawling investigation has led to the indictments of former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and associate Rick Gates.

Former Trump National Security Adviser Michael Flynn and former campaign foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos have pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about their contacts with Russian officials.

FILE - Special Counsel Robert Mueller departs after a closed-door meeting with members of the Senate Judiciary Committee about Russian meddling in the election and possible connection to the Trump campaign, at the Capitol in Washington, June 21, 2017.
FILE - Special Counsel Robert Mueller departs after a closed-door meeting with members of the Senate Judiciary Committee about Russian meddling in the election and possible connection to the Trump campaign, at the Capitol in Washington, June 21, 2017.

Details of the indictment

The indictment says the Russian campaign to “interfere in U.S. elections and U.S. political system” started as early as 2014 and accelerated as the 2016 election campaign got underway.

The indictment details how early during the 2016 campaign, the Russian operatives posted “derogatory information” about a number of presidential candidates. But by early to mid-2016, the operation began supporting Trump’s presidential campaign and disparaging Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton.

Taking on fake American identities, the Russian operatives communicated with unwitting Trump campaign associates and with other political activists “to seek to coordinate political activities,” the indictment says.

The indictment describes how Russian operatives used subterfuge, stolen identities and other methods to stage political rallies, buy ads on social media platforms, and pay gullible Americans to “promote or disparage candidates.”

To avoid detection by U.S. law enforcement agencies, the Russian operatives used computer networks based in the United States, according to the indictment.

“These groups and pages, which addressed the divisive U.S. political and social issues, falsely claimed to be controlled by U.S. activists when, in fact, they were controlled by defendants,” the indictment reads.

A number of the operatives are alleged to have traveled to the United States under “false pretenses to collect intelligence to inform the influence operations.”

Florida High School Shooting Suspect Ordered Held Without Bond

Attendees comfort each other at a candlelight vigil for the victims of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, Feb. 15, 2018, in Parkland, Fla.

Attendees comfort each other at a candlelight vigil for the victims of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, Feb. 15, 2018, in Parkland, Fla.

 

The troubled 19-year-old man accused of the latest mass shooting in the United States was ordered held without bond Thursday during a brief court appearance.

Nikolas Cruz, charged with 17 counts of premeditated murder, appeared in a Florida court, his hands shackled at the waist and wearing an orange jailhouse jumpsuit. His attorney did not contest the prosecution's request to keep Cruz jailed as he awaits further court proceedings.

Magistrate Judge Kim Theresa Mollica told Cruz, "You're charged with some very serious crimes."

All the victims - 14 students and three teachers - have been identified. They include students, as young as 14 years old and teachers who tried to protect their students from the gunman.

Cruz's court appearance came hours after President Donald Trump gave a brief White House address about the tragedy, saying he was speaking "to a nation in grief."

Trump said he would meet soon with officials from across the country "to tackle the difficult issue of mental health" in preventing mass killings and make school safety "our top priority." He did not mention any new gun control proposals.

Attendees raise their candles at a candlelight vigil for the victims of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, Feb. 15, 2018, in Parkland, Fla.
Attendees raise their candles at a candlelight vigil for the victims of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, Feb. 15, 2018, in Parkland, Fla.

Vigil for victims

Later in the day, hundreds gathered outside Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, FL, to mourn the lives lost. Vigils were held across the United States, including in California, Las Vegas, Texas and Kentucky.

Parkland Mayor Christine Hunschofsky told CNN parents are "apprehensive" about sending their children back to school.

"Children are being murdered. Do something," late night TV talk show host Jimmy Kimmel said in an impassioned monologue on his show Thursday night, urging Trump to take action to stop "another senseless shooting."

Kimmel said, ". . . what we need are laws, real laws, that do everything possible to keep assault rifles out of the hands of people who are going to shoot our kids . . . This is a perfect example of the common sense you told us you were going to bring to the White House It's time to bring it, we need it . . ."

President Donald Trump delivers a statement on the mass shooting at a South Florida High School from the White House, Feb. 15, 2018, in Washington.
President Donald Trump delivers a statement on the mass shooting at a South Florida High School from the White House, Feb. 15, 2018, in Washington.

Twitter comment

Earlier, in a Twitter comment, Trump said, there were "so many signs that the Florida shooter was mentally disturbed, even expelled from school for bad and erratic behavior. Neighbors and classmates knew he was a big problem. Must always report such instances to authorities, again and again!"

 

The leader of a white supremacist group, the Republic of Florida, said Cruz was one of its members and engaged in paramilitary drills. But neither the Leon County Sheriff's Office nor the Southern Poverty Law Center could confirm any link between Cruz and the militia.

Authorities have accused Cruz of opening fire with an assault rifle Wednesday on students and teachers at the south Florida high school where he had been enrolled before being expelled last year for disciplinary reasons.

Cruz fired in five classrooms on two floors of the high school, Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel said. After he was done, Cruz dropped the gun and his backpack full of ammunition and left the building along with other students fleeing the scene.

Police arrested Cruz Wednesday afternoon outside Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, about 70 kilometers north of Miami.

They said Cruz, wearing a gas mask, began firing outside of the school and continued to shoot inside the building.

In addition to the 17 deaths authorities reported, the shooting left 15 others hospitalized, some of them in critical condition.

Israel called the attack a "horrific, homicidal, detestable act."

FILE - In this Oct. 4, 2017 file photo, shooting instructor Frankie McRae demonstrates the grip on an AR-15 rifle fitted with a bump stock at his 37 PSR Gun Club in Bunnlevel, N.C.
FILE - In this Oct. 4, 2017 file photo, shooting instructor Frankie McRae demonstrates the grip on an AR-15 rifle fitted with a bump stock at his 37 PSR Gun Club in Bunnlevel, N.C.

AR-15 rifle, ammunition

Israel told reporters the shooter was armed with multiple ammunition magazines and an AR-15 rifle, which authorities say he legally purchased a year ago after a background security check. Authorities offered no immediate explanation for the mayhem that unfolded at the end of the school day on a sunny afternoon.

"I'm absolutely sick to my stomach to see children who go to school armed with backpacks and pencils lose their lives," Israel said. "This nation, we need to see something and say something. If we see different behavior, aberrant behavior, we need to report it to local authorities."

On Thursday, he said, "Sadly, copycat threats have been made at other schools" in the aftermath of Wednesday's mayhem. Israel called those making the threats "pathetic" and vowed to learn their identity and prosecute them.

As the investigation into the violence continued, new details emerged about the shooter from students and teachers who knew him.

Investigators looking into Cruz's online activity, including his social media accounts, turned up what Israel described as "very disturbing" things. The county sheriff gave no details.

No official reason for his expulsion has been disclosed, although the Associated Press cited a student who said Cruz was kicked out of the school after a fight with his ex-girlfriend's new boyfriend. He then enrolled at a different school.

Social media accounts that acquaintances of Cruz said were his showed him brandishing weapons.

FILE - U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions speaks during a news conference at the Justice Department in Washington.
FILE - U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions speaks during a news conference at the Justice Department in Washington.

'Must do better'

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, in a Washington speech, said that gunmen carrying out mass shootings in America often "have given signals in advance" of their mental instability. "Perhaps we haven't been effective in intervening," he said. "We can and must do better."

Florida Governor Rick Scott said, "We want to make sure this never happens again."

Scott said he will meet with state lawmakers to work on programs to try to ensure that people "with a known illness do not touch a gun."

Trump issued a proclamation honoring the victims of the shooting and ordered American flags at U.S. installations around the world to be flown at half-staff through Monday.

After previous mass shootings in the U.S., some lawmakers have called for tightening the country's weak gun control laws. But the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution enshrines gun ownership.

Gun rights advocates in Congress, supported by the National Rifle Association, have defeated efforts to ban sales of certain types of guns or attachments to weapons that increase their firepower.

It is the second mass killing in Florida in nearly two years. In mid-2016, Omar Mateen, a 29-year-old security guard, killed 49 people and wounded 58 others in a terrorist and hate crime attack on a gay nightclub in Orlando.

House Panel Launches Probe into Trump Aide's Employment Amid Domestic Abuse Allegations

FILE - White House Staff Secretary Rob Porter arrives aboard Air Force One in Morristown, New Jersey, Aug. 4, 2017.

White House Staff Secretary Rob Porter arrives aboard Air Force One in Morristown, New Jersey, Aug. 4, 2017.

 

The House Oversight Committee launched an investigation Wednesday into why President Donald Trump's staff secretary Rob Porter was able to keep his White House job for months after the FBI handed officials reports of Porter's two former wives accusing him of domestic violence.

Porter resigned last week, but Federal Bureau of Investigation Director Christopher Wray told lawmakers earlier this week that investigators had briefed White House officials as far back as March 2017 about the spousal abuse allegations against Porter, who helped oversee an array of documents and policies sent to Trump for review.

In an acknowledgement of a White House shortcoming, Vice President Mike Pence said, "I think the White House could have handled this better."

At the center of the new investigation is the role played in the oversight of Porter by White House chief of staff John Kelly, a retired Marine Corps general and Porter's boss, and when he first knew of the accusations against Porter. The White House says Kelly only learned of the abuse allegations last week after they were detailed in a British tabloid, the Daily Mail.

FILE - House Judiciary Committee member Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., speaks during a House Judiciary hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, Dec. 7, 2017.
FILE - House Judiciary Committee member Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., speaks during a House Judiciary hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, Dec. 7, 2017.

Pence praised Kelly's "remarkable job" as chief of staff, but dodged answering a question whether he felt Kelly had been "fully transparent" in disclosing what he knew about the accusations against Porter and when.

In a letter to Kelly, Congressman Trey Gowdy, chairman of the House Oversight panel, asked for information on "the date on which any White House employee became aware of potential derogatory or disqualifying information on Porter ... and which individual was so notified."

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters Tuesday that at the time Porter resigned, the allegations and recommendations on Porter's bid for a permanent White House security badge were still being reviewed by the White House personnel security office and had not been sent to higher-level officials. The Oxford- and Harvard-educated Porter was working at the White House under an interim security clearance.

In an interview on CNN, Gowdy said, "I have real questions about how someone like this could be considered for employment whether there's a security clearance or not. I'm troubled by almost every aspect of this.

"I didn't hire him," Gowdy said, "but who knew what, when and to what extent" about the abuse allegations? "If you knew in 2017 and the bureau briefed them three times, then how in the hell was he still employed?

"The chronology is not favorable to the White House," said Gowdy, a South Carolina Republican who has announced he is not seeking re-election in the November congressional elections.

Trump publicly praised Porter after his resignation and wished him a successful career in the years ahead, but had not made any public comment about the allegations made by Porter's former wives or domestic abuse more generally. Sanders had said during a daily press briefing earlier this week that Trump condemns such violence.

On Wednesday, however, Trump finally condemned domestic violence. Answering reporters' questions at the end of a meeting in the Oval Office, he said, “I'm opposed to domestic violence and everybody here knows that. I'm totally opposed to domestic violence of any kind. Everyone knows that and it almost wouldn't even have to be said. So now you hear it, you all know it.”

House Speaker Paul Ryan, the leader of the Republican majority in the House of Representatives, said, "Clearly we all should be condemning domestic violence.'' He added, "If a person who commits domestic violence gets in the government, then there's a breakdown in the system.'' Such a breakdown, Ryan said, needs to be "addressed."

Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, R-Wis., meets with reporters following a GOP strategy session at the Capitol in Washington, Feb. 14, 2018.
Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, R-Wis., meets with reporters following a GOP strategy session at the Capitol in Washington, Feb. 14, 2018.

Allegations from ex-wives

Porter's two former wives, Colbie Holderness and Jennifer Willoughby, have said they told FBI investigators details of their troubled marriages to the 40-year-old Porter in January 2017. Holderness provided a photo alleging that she sustained a black eye when Porter punched her in the face while they were on a vacation to Italy in 2005 and Willoughby offered proof that she obtained a restraining order against Porter in 2010.

Wray, in testimony Tuesday before the Senate Intelligence Committee, declined to discuss the content of the FBI's reports on Porter sent to the White House, but said investigators "submitted a partial report on the investigation" in March last year, and then a completed background check in late July.

He said the White House asked for "follow up inquiry" and that the FBI provided that information in November. Wray said the FBI administratively closed its investigation file in January, but "received some additional information" it passed on to the White House earlier this month.

"I am quite confident that in this particular instance the FBI followed the established protocols," Wray said.

Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Director Christopher Wray testifies before a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, Feb. 13, 2018.
Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Director Christopher Wray testifies before a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, Feb. 13, 2018.

After the story about Porter was published, Kelly and Sanders both released effusive statements about Porter's White House performance. But Porter's tenure at the White House unraveled quickly after publication a day later of a picture of Holderness with her black eye.

Steve Herman at the White House contributed to this report.

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