with rob porter’s departure, no one in this photo works for trump anymore pic.twitter.com/FLgU8CRl2B— kelly cohen (@politiCOHEN_) February 7, 2018
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.
Senior White House aide Rob Porter physically assaulted two ex-wives, they tell @theintercept. Full story to come in the morning.— Ryan Grim (@ryangrim) February 7, 2018
His first wife, Colbie Holderness, provided these photos from a vacation they took together in Florence, Italy: pic.twitter.com/tl3TbyGA8Y
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.
John Kelly is unfit to serve as @whitehouse chief of staff. There can be no quarter for spousal abusers or their enablers and defenders. Mr Kelly should focus on trying to salvage what shreds of dignity he still has and resign, immediately.— VoteVets (@votevets) February 8, 2018
What "new allegations"?— Jay Bookman AJC (@jaybookmanajc) February 8, 2018
Both ex-wives say they told the FBI what had happened to them. One even provided the FBI with the same photographic evidence that has since been made public. So what are these "new allegations" that Kelly just discovered? https://t.co/j9m55pPnXL
Kelly needs to go. No place for shielding a wife beater. https://t.co/7uSFRYIaOE— Tom Matzzie (@tommatzzie) February 8, 2018
Even lawmakers called for his resignation.
John Kelly knew for months about highly credible allegations against Porter, including a restraining order.— Rep. Don Beyer (@RepDonBeyer) February 8, 2018
His continued protection of Porter was a catastrophic judgment error, uncorrected even after it became public.
John Kelly’s White House tolerates domestic violence. https://t.co/rBjkyC2Ou2
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.
Trump staff and surrogates accused of domestic violence or assault against women: Rob Porter, Steve Bannon, Corey Lewandowski, Andrew Puzder.— Shannon Watts (@shannonrwatts) February 7, 2018
Also, Donald Trump.
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