White House press secretary Sarah Sanders accused reporters on Monday of recklessly publishing classified information while defending the approval of an interim security clearance for former Trump aide Rob Porter, who resigned last week amid allegations of domestic abuse.
“I think we’re doing every step we can to protect classified information. If you guys have real concerns about leaking classified information, look around the room,” Sanders said during the daily briefing. “If anyone is publishing, or putting out publicly, classified information, it’s members of the press.”
Sanders said the media has repeatedly “leaked” classified information provided by sources on Capitol Hill, a move that “put[s] national security at risk.”
Sanders declined to detail the process through which White House aides obtain interim security clearances, days after she revealed that Porter had been operating on a partial clearance throughout his tenure in the West Wing.
“This is a process that doesn’t operate within the White House. It is handled by our law enforcement and intelligence community,” she said. “It’s the same process that has been used for decades by previous administrations.”
“I do think that it’s up to those same law enforcement and intelligence agencies to determine if changes need to be made to their process,” she added.
Porter resigned last Wednesday after his two ex-wives came forward with allegations of verbal and domestic abuse. The White House has since struggled to offer a clear explanation about the timeline of the allegations and whether anyone in the West Wing was aware of the issues with his ongoing background check.
Last week, Sanders praised Porter’s work at the White House even after pictures of his former wife were published online, showing her with a black eye. Trump spoke glowingly about Porter from the Oval Office several days after he had resigned.
The controversy around Porter has raised questions about the White House vetting process. As staff secretary, Porter reviewed sensitive material and made decisions on what information made it to the president’s desk.
Sarah Sanders: "If you guys have real concerns about leaking out classified information, look around this room" pic.twitter.com/zmCHg7TTdq
— Washington Examiner (@dcexaminer) February 12, 2018