In the wake of reporting that revealed that former White House staff secretary Rob Porter had been accused of abusing two ex-wives and a girlfriend, the Trump administration has insisted that it acted quickly to remove Porter. Chief of Staff John Kelly, who has received the brunt of criticism for failing to take the allegations against Porter seriously, told staff that Porter “was gone 40 minutes” after Kelly learned of the extent of his abuse. But there is a growing body of evidence that suggests that the White House’s timeline of events is inaccurate.
On Tuesday, Politico reported that White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders organized an off-the-record briefing with Porter and four reporters from The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, and Axios in the hours after The Daily Mail published photographs of one of Porter’s ex-wives with a black eye. While it’s unclear if Kelly was aware of the briefing, it clearly contradicts the White House’s primary claim, which is that Porter was removed immediately after evidence of his abuse surfaced. Instead, it now seems clear that the Trump administration was still working to protect Porter even after The Daily Mail published its story.
Kelly reportedly informed President Donald Trump that he would be willing to resign last week, and is, in Politico’s words, “increasingly isolated” in the West Wing. The Porter story has undermined his credibility and his reputation as someone who could impose order on the chaotic White House. But, as the Politico story shows, the rot extends beyond Kelly. The chief of staff may take the fall, but the entire White House shares responsibility for its failure to take action against Porter.