“Fox & Friends” co-host Brian Kilmeade pulled no punches on Tuesday when telling White House Deputy Press Secretary Raj Shah the administration “got burned” for hiring a “two-time accused domestic abuser” in reference to former senior aide Rob Porter.
The White House has been in the midst of doing damage control after domestic violence allegations came out against Porter and speechwriting team member David Sorensen last week. Both Porter and Sorensen have since resigned.
“What is going on behind the scenes in terms of FBI background checks that might change the staff this week?” asked Kilmeade, kicking off the conversation pertaining to these allegations.
“Well, again, the FBI background check process is one that, again, the FBI runs and we are a part of it. It is operated throughout the federal government,” Shah said. The deputy press secretary went on to say that the process was also used in previous administrations.
“If any changes need to be made, we’ll look at that, but, you know, this is a process that we trust,” he said.
Kilmeade then grilled Shah: “Raj, did you change anything? You relied upon it and you got burned because you had a two-time accused domestic abuser there at a very sensitive position where perhaps he shouldn’t have been had that been fully exposed. So what changes now?”
Shah responded by citing the administration’s faith in the FBI and the evaluation process. Co-host Steve Doocy then asked Shah about someone knowing about these allegations prior to this month.
“Raj, there is story out that somebody at the FBI told somebody at the White House back in November that this guy was a problem. Do you know who that person might be?” asked Doocy.
Shah said that Porter’s background check investigation wasn’t completed when the allegations of his domestic violence came to light and the White House “is not going to step into the middle of a process and short-circuit it.”
“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,” he said. “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.”
On Wednesday of last week, reports came about alleging that Porter physically abused his two ex-wives, leading to his immediate resignation. Porter has denied the allegations and White House Chief of Staff John Kelly defended Porter in a statement, even imploring him not to resign.
Just two days later, White House speechwriter David Sorensen resigned after being accused of physical and emotional abuse by his ex-wife. Sorensen denies the allegations.