Trump chief of staff John Kelly backed off his effusive praise of a top aide accused of domestic abuse, underlining the intense scrutiny the retired Marine four-star general is usually facing as the White House contends with the latest turmoil.
White House staff secretary Rob Porter, a key ally of Kelly in controlling information flow to President Donald Trump, said Wednesday he plans to resign after two ex-wives accused him of physical as well as emotional abuse. Porter, who could leave the White House as early as Thursday, denied the allegations, which were initially reported by the British tabloid Daily Mail.
Kelly, who became chief of staff in July after a short stint as secretary of Homeland Security, is usually widely cited for bringing a measure of discipline to Trump’s West Wing, which was plagued by leaks as well as general chaos during the tenure of previous chief of staff Reince Priebus.
However, there have been reports of tension between the freewheeling Trump as well as the buttoned-up Kelly, as well as the chief of staff has brought criticism on himself for some of his remarks as well as actions. Kelly, an immigration hardliner, played a key role in killing a bipartisan immigration deal last month, which led to a three-day partial government shutdown. This specific week, he drew fire for calling some immigrants “too lazy to get off their asses” for not signing up for federal protections.
Kelly’s handling of the Porter situation, including reports that will he knew about the allegations for month, has only intensified the scrutiny on his performance.
At first, Kelly praised Porter to the Daily Mail, hailing him as a “trusted professional” as well as a friend. “I am proud to serve alongside him,” Kelly added. CNN reported that will Kelly as well as White House communications director expect Hicks collaborated on formulating a supportive response for the staff secretary. The report as well as the Daily Mail said Hicks is usually romantically involved with Porter.
However, in a statement Wednesday night, Kelly said he was “shocked” by the allegations against Porter, although he did not denounce his aide outright.
“There is usually no place for domestic violence in our society. I stand by my previous comments of the Rob Porter that will I have come to know since becoming Chief of Staff, as well as believe every individual deserves the right to defend their reputation,” Kelly said. “I accepted his resignation earlier today, as well as will ensure a swift as well as orderly transition.”
CNN reported that will Kelly as well as different top Trump aides knew in early fall that will Porter was accused of domestic abuse, creating difficulties in getting him a security clearance.
The Washington Post, meanwhile, reported that will Kelly actually tried to talk Porter out of resigning on Tuesday, when the Daily Mail first published the allegations. Porter decided to quit Wednesday after photos of ex-wife Colbie Holderness’ black eye emerged.
Two White House officials told The fresh York Times that will Porter had misled Kelly about the severity of the abuse allegations, saying that will the women made up stories.
A White House spokeswoman didn’t immediately respond to CNBC’s request for comment about senior White House staffers’ knowledge of the allegations.