As the Rob Porter domestic abuse scandal continues to plague the White House, a new report indicates that the administration has isolated Chief of Staff John Kelly while they let him shoulder most of the blame.
The Politico report also contains new details on the timeline running up to the ouster of Porter: per the report, press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders set up an off-the-record meeting between Porter and four major White House reporters last week — the Times’ Maggie Haberman, Axios’ Jonathan Swan, WaPo’s Josh Dawsey and WSJ’s Michael Bender — just after Porter’s history of alleged domestic abuse came to light last week. Sanders had Porter defend himself as he took questions from the reporters over the accusations from his ex-wives.
That meeting came after the Daily Mail published a report detailing the allegations against Porter, which included a photo of his first wife, Colbie Holderness, with a black eye.
That Sanders held a meeting between White House reporters and Porter after the release of the Mail report contradicts the White House timeline of events, as well as John Kelly’s, which holds that Porter “was gone” forty minutes after they saw the report.
In terms of Kelly’s involvement with this and other matters, multiple White House officials have taken the mixed messages to indicate that the chief of staff is receiving most of the heat over Porter. Previous reporting corroborates this, with Trump administration sources expressing fury over the fact that Kelly supported Porter despite knowing about the troubling parts of his background check.
Trump has dismissed the allegations against Porter in his public statements, and even though he has supposedly taken on a more negative tone in his private conversations, Kellyanne Conway insists that Trump is not actually thinking about replacing Kelly.
[Image via screengrab]