House committee subpoenaing former White House staffer Rob Porter

Aug 26, 2019, 2:32 PM | Updated: 2:32 pm
Rob Porter...
The House Judiciary Committee is subpoenaing former White House staff secretary Rob Porter, according to a source familiar with the matter. Photo: Nicholas Kamm/AFP/Getty Images

(CNN) — The House Judiciary Committee is subpoenaing former White House staff secretary Rob Porter, the Democratic-led panel announced Monday.

Porter’s subpoena is the sixth issued to officials close to the President in the wake of the release of the Mueller report by Chairman Jerry Nadler, a New York Democrat, and his committee as part of its investigation into President Donald Trump and possible obstruction of justice. The committee has been authorized to issue subpoenas to 17 individuals in total. The committee is asking Porter to testify on September 17.

“As I’ve said before, any other American would have been prosecuted based on the evidence Special Counsel Mueller uncovered in his report. Rob Porter was prominently featured in the Special Counsel’s description of President Trump’s efforts to obstruct justice by directing then-White House Counsel Don McGahn to fire the Special Counsel, and then ordering him to lie about it,” Nadler said in a statement.

So far, McGahn has refused to comply with his congressional subpoena because the White House asserted that he has absolute immunity from testifying before Congress. The committee has filed a lawsuit to force him to testify.

Two other officials have testified but did not answer nearly any questions about events after the 2016 election at the direction of the White House.

McGahn’s assistant Annie Donaldson, whose notes made for some of the more interesting reading in the Mueller report, answered written questions and is expected to testify in November.

Former White House communications director Hope Hicks testified behind closed doors in June. According to the transcripts, Hicks would not discuss conversations she had with the President while at the White House. Former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski and former deputy chief of staff Rick Dearborn were both subpoenaed earlier this month.

Lewandoski, the first non-White House employee to be subpoenaed by Nadler, said he would be willing to testify about his campaign role but not about conversations with the President since he took office.

Porter’s testimony could be critical in trying to establish the mindset of the President as he strategized what to do about the Mueller investigation while it was underway.

Who is Rob Porter?

Porter, who was known to take contemporaneous notes, is among the most cited sources after McGahn in the second volume of the Mueller report, the part that covers obstruction as opposed to possible collusion.

A former chief of staff of Utah Republican and former Sen. Orrin Hatch, Porter is a former Rhodes scholar and a lawyer who clerked on the DC circuit of appeals. The 41-year-old was the only Trump White House senior staff member who can lay claim to having worked in all three branches of the government, and he is also the only person so far subpoenaed by Nadler who was not a member of the Trump campaign.

He supported Jeb Bush in the 2016 Republican primary. When Jared Kushner, the President’s son-in-law and a White House senior adviser, asked Porter during the transition if he could be loyal to Trump given his track record, Porter replied he could be loyal to the office of the Presidency, according to a source with knowledge.

Footnotes in the Mueller Report indicate that Porter sat for two days of interviews with the special counsel’s team. As staff secretary, his job was to vet any document the President signed. But it soon morphed into much more than that, it has been widely reported. Porter’s glittering academic resume impressed the President who, according to three sources, increasingly relied on Porter for advice on a broad range of issues.

For example, when former Attorney General Jeff Sessions refused to un-recuse himself from the Mueller investigation, the Mueller report states that the President asked Porter about associate Attorney General Rachel Brand, whom Porter knew personally.

Porter in the Mueller report

According to the report, the President asked Porter to find out if Brand was “on the team” and would be interested in becoming attorney general one day, or taking on the investigation herself.

Porter, the report said, did not do as the President asked and seek out Brand, because he understood that what he was being asked to do, thought it was not stated explicitly by the President, was to find someone to fire the special counsel or end the Russia investigation.

Porter was also sandwiched between an angry President and McGahn, according to the report, after McGahn refused to refute an article published by the New York Times that alleged the President had asked McGahn to fire the special counsel. McGahn had not only refused, but threatened to resign, according to the report. Trump had told Porter that the article was “bullsh**” and insisted to Porter that he tell McGahn to write a letter for the public file stating he had never asked McGahn to fire the special counsel. He told Porter that if McGahn did not do as directed “then maybe I will get rid of him.”

According to the Mueller report, Porter told the President that he thought the matter would be best handled by the White House communications office. But after being pressed by the President, he went to McGahn and conveyed the message, which McGahn “shrugged off.”

According to the Mueller report, Porter also talked with then-White House chief of staff John Kelly, who set up a meeting between the President and McGahn, during which McGahn told the President that the optics of firing him would be terrible. McGahn was not fired. He left the White House in October 2018.

Porter resigned from the White House in February 2018 amid allegations from two former wives of domestic abuse. Porter denied the allegations.

But for the next couple of months, the President continued to talk with Porter frequently and wanted him to return to the White House, according to a report in the New York Times. According to the book “Fear: Trump in the White House” by veteran Washington Post journalist Bob Woodward, Porter had acted as something of a guardrail against the President’s more extreme positions, especially on a trade war with China and immigration.

Since then, it’s not clear how often the President and Porter have talked or what the nature of their relationship is now. That could be one reason House Democrats want his testimony come September.

™ & © 2019 Cable News Network, Inc., a Time Warner Company. All rights reserved.

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Send it to the KSL NewsRadio team here.

Today’s Top Stories


Video footage of a traffic stop that led to the deadly beating of Tyre Nichols shows "acts that def...
Travis Caldwell, Jay Croft, Eric Bradner and Alisha Ebrahimji, CNN

Memphis releases video showing police stop that led to Tyre Nichols’ death

Editor’s note: This article contains graphic descriptions of violence. (CNN) — The city of Memphis has released police body camera and surveillance video showing the January 7 traffic stop and violent police confrontation that led to the death of 29-year-old Tyre Nichols. During the initial encounter between Nichols and Memphis police, an officer can be seen […]
1 day ago
File**People walk past the entrance to a Bed Bath & Beyond retail store along Sixth Avenue in N...
Paul R. La Monica and Nathaniel Meyersohn, CNN

Bed Bath & Beyond says it can no longer pay its debts

The end could be near for struggling retailer Bed Bath & Beyond, as it warned in a regulatory filing Thursday that it received a notice of default from its lender, JPMorgan Chase.
1 day ago
Five former Memphis police officers who were fired for their actions during the arrest of Tyre Nich...
Travis Caldwell and Jay Croft, CNN

‘You’re going to see acts that defy humanity,’ police chief says of Tyre Nichols video

Police also have not been able to find anything that's substantiated the probable cause for reckless driving by Nichols before his fatal encounter with police, she said.
1 day ago
Havasu Falls spills into the water pools below in Supai, Arizona, in October of 2016. Photo credit:...
Forrest Brown, CNN

Grand Canyon’s Havasu Falls to reopen to visitors after 3-year closure

 (CNN) — Havasu Falls, one of the most intriguing features of the Grand Canyon system, will be reopening to visitors after a three-year closure caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. But it’s with a catch. The reopening is scheduled for February 1; however, access will be limited initially to a certain, small group. People whose previous […]
1 day ago
Rep. George Santos leaves a meeting of the House Republican Conference at the Capitol Hill Club on ...
Gregory Krieg, CNN

George Santos’ ex says congressman will never resign because ‘his ego is too big’

(CNN) — The former boyfriend of New York Rep. George Santos says the Long Island Republican facing growing calls to resign for extensively lying about his past will never do so, even as he faces multiple investigations, including into his finances. “His ego is too big. He’s not gonna resign. If they don’t find out something to get […]
1 day ago
About 87% of Tuesday's US flight cancellations are Southwest, according to flight tracking website ...
Pete Muntean and Greg Wallace, CNN

US Transportation Dept. investigating Southwest holiday travel meltdown

The US Transportation Department said it is in the early stages of an investigation into the Southwest Airlines holiday travel meltdown in December.
2 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Banner with Cervical Cancer Awareness Realistic Ribbon...
Intermountain Health

Five Common Causes of Cervical Cancer – and What You Can Do to Lower Your Risk

January is National Cervical Cancer Awareness month and cancer experts at Intermountain Health are working to educate women about cervical cancer, the tests that can warn women about potential cancer, and the importance of vaccination.
Kid holding a cisco fish at winterfest...
Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

Get Ready for Fun at the 2023 Bear Lake Monster Winterfest

The Bear Lake Monster Winterfest is an annual weekend event jam-packed full of fun activities the whole family can enjoy. This year the event will be held from January 27-29 at the Utah Bear Lake State Park Marina and Sunrise Resort and Event Center in Garden City, Utah. 
happy friends with sparklers at christmas dinner...

15 Easy Christmas Dinner Ideas

We’ve scoured the web for you and narrowed down a few of our favorite Christmas dinner ideas to make your planning easy. Choose from the dishes we’ve highlighted to plan your meal or start brainstorming your own meal plan a couple of weeks before to make sure you have time to shop and prepare.
Spicy Homemade Loaded Taters Tots...

5 Game Day Snacks for the Whole Family (with recipes!)

Try these game day snacks to make watching football at home with your family feel like a special occasion. 
Happy joyful smiling casual satisfied woman learning and communicates in sign language online using...

The Best Tools for Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing Workplace Success

Here are some of the best resources to make your workplace work better for Deaf and hard-of-hearing employees.
Team supporters celebrating at a tailgate party...

8 Delicious Tailgate Foods That Require Zero Prep Work

In a hurry? These 8 tailgate foods take zero prep work, so you can fuel up and get back to what matters most: getting hyped for your favorite
House committee subpoenaing former White House staffer Rob Porter