White House Chief of Staff John Kelly was supposedly shocked to learn of spousal abuse allegations against staff secretary Rob Porter this week, but reports have emerged that Trump administration officials were aware of Porter's ex-wives stories as early as January 2017.
The Washington Post reported Thursday that top White House counsel Don McGahn knew about the allegations but failed to act because Porter denied that they were true.
McGahn's opinion did not change in June after the FBI notified White House officials of what they had heard from Porter's former spouses, or in September "when he learned that the domestic violence claims were delaying Porter's security clearance," the Post reported.
It said that in November, a woman Porter had dated then contacted McGahn about the claims by the ex-wives, but the attorney still took no action to remove Porter. McGahn did tell Porter's boss, chief of staff John Kelly, why Porter still did not have security clearance, and Kelly agreed Porter should stay on the job, the Post reported.
Kelly, who referred to Porter as a "man of true integrity and honor" Wednesday, sent a memo to White House staff Thursday:
"While we are all processing the shocking and troubling allegations made against a former White House staffer, I want you to know that we all take matters of domestic violence very seriously," Kelly wrote in a memo sent to White House employees. The memo offered counseling resources
Beyond Porter's alleged behavior, the incident has shone a spotlight on Kelly, causing some to question his fitness for the job.
Republican strategist Evan Siegfried, appearing on MSBC, asked: "Why is John Kelly chief of staff now, after repeated mistakes?"
Siegfried ticked off a series of controversies sparked by Kelly's comments, which included calling some immigrants "too lazy" to register for protected status, making false claims about what a Democratic congresswoman had said at a ceremony, and asserting that the Civil War occurred because of "the lack of ability to compromise."