John Kelly Faces Scrutiny as Trump Questions Response to Abuse Allegations

Rob Porter

Porter resigned on Wednesday, calling the allegations "outrageous" and "simply false". "And we hope he has a wonderful career", Trump said in his first comments on the allegations against the onetime rising West Wing star.

"As you probably know he says he is innocent", Trump added, saying that Porter did "very well" in the White House. Another spoke of emotional abuse and of Porter grabbing her and pulling her from the shower.

A White House spokesman said that McGahn - who had access to detailed Federal Bureau of Investigation interviews conducted for Porter's security clearance - and Kelly feel misled by Porter, saying he downplayed his ex-wives' accusations in conversations with them.

Here's how the White House responded to the Rob Porter scandal Thursday. And yet Porter kept rising in the White House.

Early Wednesday, Kelly issued a complimentary statement on Porter but that evening Kelly said he "was shocked by the new allegations released today [Wednesday]". The White House seemed to believe it could weather this storm too, as long as this was a rather anonymous staffer and it was a he-said-she-said (or, more aptly, a he-said-they-said).

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But Kelly's handling of the Porter affair rattled some aides, who questioned his full-throated defense of an accused batterer, according to more than a half-dozen White House officials and outside advisers who were not authorized to speak publicly about private conversations.

The White House says former staff secretary Rob Porter was working at the White House under an interim security clearance while his background check was being completed.

Trump was not consulted when Hicks and several other aides drafted a White House statement defending Porter, and he is under the impression that Hicks has let her romantic relationship with Porter cloud her judgment, a source familiar said.

The episode risked tarnishing Kelly's reputation for running a tight ship and possibly weakened his political clout in Washington at a time when Trump is looking to build support on both sides of the aisle over contentious issues like immigration. "He was saddened by it", Shah said.

Porter's other ex-wife, Colbie Holderness, provided a brief statement to DailyMail.com alleging that Porter had abused her, but the website didn't detail her claims. Even when they were confronted with information about Porter that they didn't care to seek out themselves - as they were promoting him up the ranks - they played it off as if it were a minor nuisance.

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Senator Martin Heinrich, a Democrat, said in a statement that if Kelly "covered up Staff Secretary Rob Porter's record of domestic violence then he should resign immediately".

Just another day in a White House of a sitting president who is a misogynist.

President Trump was not told of the accusations until this week, two senior officials said, after they were first published by the Daily Mail, and he had grown fond of Porter in his job, which often put him by the president's side. Holderness has a blackened right eye and a swollen cheekbone.

Attorneys who specialize in security clearance said Porter should have disclosed the allegations, including the protective order granted to one woman, when he filed his lengthy national security application.

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