The White House continues to flail, lie, and deny over its botched handling of former staff secretary Rob Porter’s history of domestic abuse. Senior officials knew that Porter’s ex-wives had told the FBI he had abused them, sat on that knowledge for months, initially defended Porter as “a man of true integrity and honor” and then issued a series of contradictory claims about what they knew when and how they responded. Right now the question is who will bear the most blame and whether that blame will come with real penalties, but the reality is that responsibility for this situation is spread throughout the White House at the highest levels.
Chief of Staff John Kelly is—rightfully—drawing a large share of criticism for standing by Porter, who was reportedly in line for a promotion before the wife-beating news became public, and for then lying about what he knew when and how he responded. But there are also questions about White House counsel Don McGahn, who the New York Times reports “suggested to Mr. Porter he should consider leaving the White House” after Porter’s girlfriend went to McGahn with concerns, but who apparently didn’t ever follow up on that suggestion. And the White House communications office has aggressively pushed a series of lies and invited reporters to privately hear Porter’s side of the story from the man himself.
Kelly is supposed to be the grown-up in the room keeping things organized and above board—but let’s face it, this is Donald Trump’s White House top to bottom.
During [FBI Director Christopher] Wray’s testimony, another White House aide texted a Washington Post reporter, describing the moment as “a killer.”
When asked if Kelly could have been more transparent or truthful, that official wrote: “In this White House, it’s simply not in our DNA. Truthful and transparent is great, but we don’t even have a coherent strategy to obfuscate.”
It’s not incidental that Kelly is Donald Trump’s chief of staff. He was chosen to provide a veneer of disciplined adulthood, but he wouldn’t be there if he wasn’t a vile bigot himself and generally on board with the whole Trump agenda. He’s not the guy to alter “the DNA” of Trump’s staff because it’s his DNA, too, and the DNA is misogynist, racist, and dishonest throughout.