Before Rob Porter resigned last week as the White House staff secretary, he was responsible for, among things, screening every document that reached the president's desk. In other words, Porter had access to highly sensitive, classified materials on a daily basis.
We now know that was a problematic dynamic. As Rachel explained on the show, Porter didn't have, and apparently couldn't get, a permanent security clearance. In fact, while he was handling highly sensitive, classified materials on a daily basis, Porter's ex-wife was telling the FBI that he was a potential target for blackmail.
So, how is it, exactly, that Porter was cleared to handle secret information as part of his duties? It's unlikely we'll see any congressional hearings on this, but as Politico reported, Democratic lawmakers appear to be asking the right questions.
Democratic senators on Thursday requested an intelligence community investigation into security clearance procedures under President Donald Trump, after a White House aide who had not gotten full clearance announced he would resign over domestic abuse allegations.
Sens. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) sent a letter to Wayne Stone, the acting inspector general for the intelligence community, asking for information about how the administration determines who can access classified information.
In their letter, the senators noted, "Members of the Senate have sent several requests for information to the administration seeking clarification on the security clearance review process." After noting that those requests have gone unmet, they added, "We are concerned over the apparent low and inconsistent threshold the Trump White House uses for obtaining an interim security clearance."
They're not alone. Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), ranking member of the House Oversight and Committee, insisted last week that the Porter controversy is the latest reminder that the White House's security clearance process needs "credible oversight."
On Friday, a separate group of 12 senators from the Democratic conference wrote to White House Chief of Staff John Kelly and White House Counsel Don McGahn, asking why Porter was hired to handle classified documents "despite the fact he could not get a security clearance."
The controversy surrounding Porter has certainly helped elevate the questions, but it'd be a mistake to think Trump World's problems with security clearances are limited to one aide.