White House aides Friday say Chief of Staff John F. Kelly ordered them to band together and share a joint lie about his actions on the termination of accused wife beater Rob Porter, the now ex-staff secretary for the administration of President Donald J. Trump.
“He told the staff he took immediate and direct action” within 40 minutes of learning that abuse allegation from Porter’s ex-wives were credible, one of the officials told The Washington Post.
Other senior staff members report the same but do so under anonymity because they would face immediate termination for revealing discussion in a confidential meeting.
“He told us to lie,” says another aide. “The Chief of Staff backed Porter up to the last possible minute because the man was a chosen selection.”
The new story directly contradicts previous statements by the Trump administration and the new account is now aimed at trying to protect what little may be left of his credibility because the Porter debacle is the latest in a string of missteps by a chief of staff who was supposed to bring order and stability to the White House.
Kelly learned of the domestic violence allegations against Porter several months ago but stood by him and issued a strong statement of support after the allegations surfaced publicly Tuesday.
Aides say Kelly told Porter to stay on the job. It took another 24 hours before the staff aide’s resignation announcement.
When The Daily Mail reported the abuse accusations against Porter, Keely issued a statement that said “Rob Porter is a man of true integrity and honor, and a can’t say enough good things about him. He is a friend, a confidante and a trusted professional. I am proud to serve alongside him.”
Even Wednesday, when photos of an ex-wife’s black eye appeared in the media, Kelly still steadfast by Porter and told him he still had his job at the White House.
Now, Kelly is saying nothing and the White House today refused to comment on Kelly’s order to his staff Friday morning.
One aide said he is “very uncomfortable lying about this” in any public comments but adds that refusal to follow a direct command from the retired Marine general means an end to the job.
Porter denies any accusations of abuse of either wife and press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders Wednesday said Porter still had the White House’s support. She said Porter’s resignation was his own decision and added that his departure from the White House was “not imminent.”
By Thursday, Porter was all but gone. White House spokesman Raj Shah said he was “terminated” and ordered to clean out his desk.
“That’s our story now and we’re sticking to it,” says one senior White House aide now. “Or at least until we’re given a new one to tell.”
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