I have not written about the Rob Porter situation for two reasons. First, because I am at the point of not really being surprised by this sort of thing coming from this White House. Second, because I thought the story still was developing. It definitely has been. Anderson Cooper conducted a powerful interview with Jennie Willoughby last night. It is not just that she is credible. It is that there is photographic evidence of Rob Porter's abuse against his first wife in addition to the evidence of abuse against Willoughby. I think it is abundantly obvious now that President Trump's staff have failed him.
Rob Porter downplayed allegations about spousal abuse and, both frankly and bluntly, there have been so many people crying wolf about everything related to President Trump, I do not really blame the White House staff for taking the position that Rob Porter should not be condemned through just allegations. That is fair and reasonable.
Unfortunately, this article in the Washington Post asserts that one of Porter's ex-girlfriends works for the Trump Administration and flagged the issue of Porter's behavior to the White House counsel. The story also asserts that General Kelly was perfectly willing to let Rob Porter stay on the job even after seeing the photo of Porter's ex-wife with a black eye caused by Porter's assault.
Shah said Kelly was not “fully aware” of the alleged spousal abuse until Wednesday, when he saw the pictures of Holderness with a black eye. But White House officials said Kelly pushed Porter to stay in the job even after the release of the photos.
Then there is this story at the Daily Beast that asserts Donald Trump's staff got Senator Orrin Hatch to release a statement in defense of Porter by telling Hatch that Corey Lewandowski was trying to smear Porter.
The White House officials told Hatch’s office that the story was the product of a “smear campaign” being orchestrated against Porter by his political enemies. Among those they pinpointed was former Trump campaign manager (and current outside adviser to the president) Corey Lewandowski, according to two sources familiar with the conversations. Multiple White House staffers told Hatch himself that Lewandowski “was digging into Rob’s previous marriages,” recalled one source, who said Porter himself was among the officials who fingered Lewandowski.
One consistency in all the articles is that no one bothered to tell the President of the United States that he had on staff a trusted advisor who had beaten up two different ex-wives. None of them told the President even after the FBI flagged the issue last year. This is just malpractice. This is a disservice to the President of the United States. This is dragging the President into a distracting scandal about which he had no role and no knowledge. Rob Porter was not even his guy. Orrin Hatch recommended Porter to Trump.
As for General Kelly, he is the man charged with bring normalcy and stability to the White House and he let an unstable spousal abuser roam the halls. If the press report is accurate (and I realize that is a big if these days), Kelly was willing to keep the guy even after the picture was released of Porter's ex-wife's black eye. This is completely unacceptable. Kelly is in his position to keep stuff like this from happening and he let this happen.
The drumbeat against Kelly by Ivanka and others has begun and he seems to already be distracted. He and other staff at the White House have done a grave disservice to the President in this matter. Maybe it is time for Kelly to go. But if so, it appears it would be past time for several others to go as well.