Did John Kelly Protect Accused Abuser Rob Porter?

President Donald Trump’s staff secretary has abruptly resigned after his two ex-wives made allegations of verbal and physical abuse.

Harvard University graduate and current White House staff secretary Rob Porter is stepping down following reports claiming his two ex-wives were physically and verbally abused.

Now, chief of staff John Kelly is being urged to resign for having kept him onboard after reports claimed he was aware of the allegations.

Reports detail that Porter’s two ex-wives claim the aide was abusive toward them. At least one photo depicting one of his ex-wives with a black eye was part of the records.

In 2010, Porter's second wife obtained a protective order against him, of which Kelly was reportedly aware. Still, other White House aides told reporters that they were shocked at the revelations.  

In a statement, Kelly said that he was "shocked by the new allegations released today against Rob Porter."

"There is no place for domestic violence in our society," he added.

However, CBS News reported that the FBI informed the White House in November about the domestic abuse allegations. If so, it's unclear why Kelly would claim to be "shocked" about the allegations of abuse.

CNN also reported that senior White House officials were aware of the allegations for months, adding that Kelly was fully aware by early fall of Porter's difficulties trying to obtain clearance because of the abuse his ex-wives suffered. According to a senior official, the 2010 protective order kept Porter from being granted a full security clearance.

On Twitter, users said they were upset that Kelly knew about the allegations and still allowed Porter to stay on the team. Some are even calling for him to resign.

Even lawmakers called for his resignation.

On CNN, Montana Democratic Sen. Jon Tester said that "[i]f John Kelly is covering this up, he needs to be held accountable."

"He better have a really good reason. Otherwise, he's gone, too," Tester added.

Despite his confidence, CNN added, the chief of staff position is not confirmed by the Senate; Trump would have to be pressured to remove Kelly.

Porter's statement, on the other hand, claimed the allegations were not true.

“These outrageous allegations are simply false. I took the photos given to the media nearly 15 years ago, and the reality behind them is nowhere close to what is being described,” Porter said in a statement. “I have been transparent and truthful about these vile claims, but I will not further engage publicly with a coordinated smear campaign.”

The statement also said Porter would delay his departure to “ensure a smooth transition.”

Interestingly, the statement in which he claimed his innocence was read by White House press secretary Sarah Sanders, who also praised the alleged abuser before the press.

“Rob Porter has been effective in his role as staff secretary. The president and chief of staff have full confidence in his abilities and his performance,” Sanders said Wednesday.

Porter worked for three Republican lawmakers in the past, Sens. Mike Lee and Orrin Hatch from Utah, and Rob Portman from Ohio.

While Porter isn’t a well-known figure, he played a highly influential role in President Donald Trump’s White House simply because he spent every day by the president’s side, Politico reports.

In his role, he handled the documents the president signed and eventually became the lead White House policy coordinator. He was also the person who would serve as a link between the president and his trade policy team.

This isn’t the first time that people close to the president have been accused of improprieties.

Former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski was charged with assault after reportedly grabbing a Breitbart correspondent. It was later reported that he slapped singer Joy Villa on her behind.

The president himself was famously caught on tape saying it was easy for him to “grab” women and has been accused of harassment multiple times by different women. So it’s not surprising that the Trump White House would have no issues defending Porter after the reports of abuse surfaced.

Banner and thumbnail credit: Reuters, Kevin Lamarque, Jonathan Ernst 

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