- In February, former White House staff secretary Rob Porter was accused of emotionally and physically abusing his ex-wives.
- The White House gave conflicting accounts about when it first was made aware of the accusations. The FBI later cleared up the confusion.
- One former White House official said in a New York Magazine report that as officials tried to mitigate the fallout, chief of staff John Kelly “tried to get everybody else to lie.”
- “He’s very petty. He’s a small man,” the former official said, according to the magazine.
- Kelly, who has been rumoured to be on President Donald Trump’s firing line, has had no shortage of critics during his tenure, such as former White House official Omarosa Manigault Newman.
A former White House official claimed White House chief of staff John Kelly “tried to get everybody else to lie” after President Donald Trump’s former staff secretary, Rob Porter, was accused of emotionally and physically abusing his ex-wives.
Porter, who denied the allegations, resigned in February after being accused of abusing Colbie Holderness and Jennie Willoughby, his first and second wife, respectively.
But as news reports about the alleged abuses emerged, Kelly and the White House were criticised for their handling of the scandal and were found giving statements that contradicted those of other officials, including FBI director Christopher Wray.
“Not only did he lie, he tried to get everybody else to lie,” a former White House said in a New York Magazine report published Wednesday. “People had deferred to him because he was a four-star Marine general, served his country, Gold Star father – all of these things that made you think, What a patriotic upstanding American serving his country.”
“I viewed him as this giant, four-star general, everything that goes along with that,” the former official added, referring to Kelly’s military service in the Marine Corps. “He’s very petty. He’s a small man.”
Despite reports that White House counsel Don McGahn knew of the allegations for more than a year, White House officials at the time explained it had “full confidence and trust” in Porter, including Kelly, who described him as “a man of true integrity and honour.”
“I can’t say enough good things about him,” Kelly said. “He is a friend, a confidante, and a trusted professional. I am proud to serve alongside him.”
Kelly later issued a statement saying he was “shocked by the new allegations,” but said stood by his assessment of Porter. Kelly was also reported to have urged Porter to stay on, even as pressure mounted against the White House.
“I stand by my previous comments of the Rob Porter that I have come to know since becoming Chief of Staff, and believe every individual deserves the right to defend their reputation,” Kelly said.
The New York Magazine profile on Kelly centered around talks of his potential ouster from the White House. The rumours reportedly continued to circulate amid a growing number of frustrated current and former staffers, namely former White House official Omarosa Manigault. Kelly was initially viewed as a White House arbiter who clamped down on the Oval Office’s freewheeling antics, but has been reported to have deepened his divide with Trump.
Kelly denied his relationship with Trump was tense and said he believed there was “no chaos in this building.”
“He’s a great president,” Kelly said in the report. “Do we disagree sometimes? We do. My job is to make sure that that man has all of the information available from whatever source so that he makes the best decision, and then, when that decision is made, my job is to then implement that decision.”
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