More trouble in the White House this week with how appointees of Donald Trump treat their spouses.
On Friday, White House speechwriter David Sorensen resigned as The Washington Post and other media outlets — including Capitol Hill Blue — zeroed in on his record of abuse of wife Elise Viebeck, who told the FBI a harrowing story about physical abuse.
The new revelations rocked the White House and added yet another chink the armour of chief of staff John Kelly, who came under fire Friday for telling the staff to tell a new version of what happened with staff assistant Rob Porter, who the White House first said resigned but now, according to Kelly’s new version of events, was terminated almost immediately after learning of his record of abuse of two former wives.
The new story, however, doesn’t reconcile with FBI notifications to the White House last year that Porter had abused his wives and would not get the standard security clearance he needed for the job.
Kelly not only kept Porter in his job but added responsibilities that made him the key assistant to the chief of staff. His security clearance became an “interim” one as the White House told the FBI to keep investigating the case.
But then the agency told Kelly Thursday that he evidence against Porter was credible and conclusive, he finally terminated Porter and told him to clean out his desk.
On Friday morning, senior aides were told by Kelly to say he did not know about Porter’s past actions until just before he fired him. The FBI says that is not true. White House sources say Kelly may be the next one fired.
Trump is not doing he or the White House any favors. At least one previous wife, Ivana Trump, accused him of raping her during their time together. Trump did not deny the act but said “husbands cannot rape their wives.” Laws in many states, including New York, say otherwise.
Trump’s list of sexual misadventures includes charges by more than 20 women who say he tried to force himself on them sexually, sometimes completing the physical act.
Trump calls the charges “lies” and says the women are “liars,” claiming they are controlled by political opponents or seeking money or their own shots at “fame.”
The president also says Porter denies the accusations of physical assault, even ignoring photos of one ex-wives black eye from the abuse. Trump got help from White House Communications Director Hope Hicks, who drafted replies for Kelly and Trump while “dating” Porter.
On Friday, Trump praised the fired Porter.
“We wish him well,” he told reporters. “He also, as you probably know, says he is innocent, and I think you have to remember that.”
On Saturday, Trump upped the ante, tweeting:
People’s lives are being shattered and destroyed by a mere allegation. There is no recovery for someone falsely accused — life and career are gone. Is there no such thing as Due Process?
Political advisors say Trump is inviting any more trouble by taking on the “Me, too” movement that has put widespread sexual abuse by powerful men on notice.
“This is coming, this is real,” says former Trump chief strategist Steve Bannon. who was accused of abuse by a wife during their divorce.
Other Republicans say the matter, along with other scandals at the White House, is distracting the public from potential good news about the tax cut and improving economy.
“For members or anybody else who cares about keeping control of Congress, if you find yourself talking about anything but the middle-class tax cut, shut up and stop talking,” claims Corry Bliss, chief of the House Republican “super PAC,” the Congressional Leadership Fund. “Any time spent on TV talking about anything but how we’re helping the middle class is a waste of time and does nothing to help us win in 2018.”
As Bliss notes, the only goal of his party is to “win” and win at any cost.
When it comes to scandalous and criminal sexual activity, former Republican New York Sen. Al D’mato had this advice for Bill Clinton when he was caught dallying with 19-year-old intern Monica Lewinsky during his presidency” “When the little head gets hard,” D’Amato said, “the big head goes soft.”
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