Pittsburgh Music Ecosystem Project will hold a Town Meeting this month

Pittsburgh Music Ecosystem Project will hold a Town Meeting this month
Kelly asks WH staff to say he took ‘immediate and direct action’ on Porter: report
Comment Email Print WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump, frustrated by his staff’s handling of the abuse allegations against Rob Porter, is increasingly venting about Chief of Staff John Kelly and speculating about potential replacements, according to multiple sources familiar with the matter.

One senior administration official and three other people briefed on those conversations told NBC News Trump is angry at Kelly’s initial statement of effusive support about Porter’s character — and then the quick walk back the next day.

ADVERTISEMENT One of Porter’s two ex-wives, Jennifer Willoughby, told the Daily Mail that she went through physical and emotional abuse when she was married to Porter. Kelly and White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders defended Porter in the Daily Mail story. Kelly called him “a man of true integrity and honor.”

Kelly asks WH staff to say he took ‘immediate and direct action’ on Porter: report

After Porter’s two ex-wives made allegations of physical and verbal abuse in The Daily Mail, Kelly said in a statement on Tuesday: “Rob Porter is a man of true integrity and honor and I can’t say enough good things about him.”

White House chief of staff John KellyJohn Francis KellyMORE has instructed senior staff to say that he took “immediate and direct action” after learning that the allegations of domestic abuse against staff secretary Rob Porter were credible, according to The Washington Post.
Kelly asks WH staff to say he took 'immediate and direct action' on Porter: report
Kelly asks WH staff to say he took ‘immediate and direct action’ on Porter: report

On Wednesday, Kelly issued a statement saying that “there is no place for domestic violence in our society,” but that he stood by his original comments. Porter, who has denied the abuse allegations, left his job as White House staff secretary on Thursday.

No one could pretend to be all that surprised that this White House doesn’t see allegations of domestic violence as disqualifying from government service, since it has hired or appointed other men with similar accusations against them, including Stephen K. Bannon and Andrew Puzder, Trump’s first choice to be labor secretary. When you’re working for Trump — who has himself been accused by over a dozen women of various forms of sexual assault and impropriety, and who not only takes the position that they’re all liars but also requires his underlings to repeat that defense — you’re probably not going to get bent out of shape when you learn that the ex-wife of the guy in the next office filed a protective order against him.

“We wish him well,” the president told reporters. “He worked very hard. Found out about it recently and I was surprised by it. … Obviously, tough time for him. He did a very good job when he was at the White House.”

Those allegations — and the fact that they could potentially be used to blackmail him — were the reason that Porter’s security clearance was being held up. Yet McGahn and Kelly not only didn’t see it as a problem, they were eager for Porter to stay on, apparently because he was a competent employee, something that is unusually rare in this White House. Kelly initially urged Porter to stay, and earlier this week called him “a man of true integrity and honor,” despite the fact that, as Politico reports, “Kelly had been aware for several weeks that Porter would never receive a full security clearance due to a protective order that had been filed against him by an ex-wife in 2010.”

Sources: Kelly urged Porter to stay despite abuse pics

The president added: “We hope he has a wonderful career. … Very sad when we heard about it. He’s very sad. He also, as you probably know, he says he’s innocent.”

Holderness and Jennie Willoughby, Porter’s second wife, both said they were contacted and interviewed in January 2017 by the FBI about their back-to-back marriages to Porter between 2003 and 2013. Holderness, a 37-year-old senior analyst at the U.S. Government Accountability Office, said she provided photos of the black eye she said he delivered during a 2005 vacation in Florence, Italy. Willoughby, a 39-year-old writer and motivational speaker, said she authorized investigators to obtain a protective order she filed in 2010 after he refused to leave her Arlington, Virginia, apartment, in violation of their separation agreement. She said he returned the next day and broke glass in the door with his fist.

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Two of the sources said the brewing dissatisfaction has Trump openly musing about potential replacements for the chief of staff job. Inside the West Wing, there’s rampant speculation about who those replacements might be.

Among the names being circulated by Trump for chief of staff is current Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney, who also heads the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

McBrayer said the two deputies had responded to the home around 10:53 a.m. to serve a warrant on charges out of the Locust Grove municipal court for failure to appear. They talked to the subject of the warrant for about ten minutes before they tried to take him into custody. When he wouldn’t cooperate, they called the Locust Grove officer for backup, McBrayer said.

One of the sources pointed out that the Porter incident could give the president a specific reason to cite if he chooses to remove Kelly, but all four sources caution that it is more likely Kelly stays on the job.

About three minutes after the Locust Grove officer arrived, there was an altercation, and that’s when the officer, deputies and suspect were shot. McBrayer couldn’t speak to how many shots were fired, who fired the shot that killed the suspect, or what kind of weapons were involved.

“Clearly, the president is frustrated with the status quo,” a source close to the White House said when asked about the fallout from the Porter scandal. Even before that happened, Trump chafed at being isolated under Kelly’s strict management structure and attempt to control the flow of information to the president.

Trump Says Aide Accused of Violence 'Did a Very Good Job' in White House
Trump Says Aide Accused of Violence ‘Did a Very Good Job’ in White House

“You can get away with (that) for a couple of months,” but at some point Trump will “rebel,” the source added.

According to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, the officers are from two different police departments. Two Henry County Sheriff’s deputies and one Locust Grove police officer have been wounded and were taken to nearby hospitals. The Locust Grove Police officer has died; the condition of the Henry County deputies are unknown.

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People close to the president have said they witnessed him frequently venting about his advisers, yet doesn’t always pull the trigger on getting rid of them. And the president is leery of another staff shake-up at this time. One source also noted that Kelly is viewed as the guy “doing all the work.”

A: I think there’s almost a beginning, middle and end, where you have Chloe Kim and Nathan Chen in snowboard and men’s figure skating. They look like they belong with the best of the world, and now here’s their first opportunity on the Olympic stage to do it. I think those two on the youth side. On the end of the scale a little bit, Lindsey Vonn, who’s kind of pieced herself back together. It’s been eight years and she is doing everything she can to be in the right place physically and mentally to go do it again. So the back end is Lindsey Vonn and Shaun White — can they do it one last time? Chloe and Nathan — can they do it for the first time? And in the middle is Mikaela Shiffrin. If Mikaela takes on a heavy program, we could be looking at a very special Olympic Games. So it’s the new kids, it’s the old guard back for one more shot at it, and in the middle, somebody who’s in the prime of what looks like a great career with a chance to have an Olympics that they’ll talk about for generations.

One White House staffer said that despite the president’s frustration, “I don’t think he wants to fire anybody because there’s too much drama.”

Trump’s unhappiness isn’t just with Kelly. Two sources told NBC that the president is also frustrated over Communications Director Hope Hicks’ handling of the Porter controversy.

That Trump is frustrated with Hicks is unusual. She has long enjoyed the president’s favor and benefited from her loyalty to him.

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Rob Porter scandal reveals a White House with no principles
Rob Porter scandal reveals a White House with no principles

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