The Trump White House can’t get its story straight on Rob Porter. Whether they’re trying to decide when Porter left the building, when they found out about the abuse allegations, or why they decided to change their response, administration officials cannot stop contradicting each other. What’s worse – Donald Trump will not publicly denounce a man after he was accused of assaulting two of his ex-wives.
Take a look at the constantly changing Rob Porter story:
The administration can’t even figure out when Rob Porter left the White House.
On Wednesday afternoon, Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Porter’s departure from the White House “won’t be immediate.”
“He is going to be leaving the White House. It won’t be immediate, but he is resigning from the White House, but is going to stay on to ensure that there’s a smooth transition moving forward.”
By Wednesday night, John Kelly said he had accepted Porter’s resignation “earlier today.”
“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. I accepted his resignation earlier today, and will ensure a swift and orderly transition.”
CNBC: “On Friday, when asked to clarify the timeline of what happened, Kelly said that he found out Tuesday night ‘that the accusations were true.’ Porter officially resigned Wednesday, after photos of an ex-wife's bruised face were published. ‘Forty minutes later he was gone,’ Kelly added Friday. Pressed for further clarification about whether he ordered Porter’s termination, at first Kelly said ‘yes.’ But then he quickly added: ‘Actually, he made the decision 40 minutes later.’”
And on yesterday’s Sunday shows, the story continued to… evolve…
Mick Mulvaney told ‘Fox News Sunday’ Rob Porter left “almost immediately.”
“As soon as Rob Porter was proven wrong and it was proven that he was not telling the truth when the photos came on Wednesday, he was gone almost immediately.”
On ABC ‘This Week,’ Kellyanne Conway said Rob Porter left “by Thursday.”
“Well, Rob Porter no longer works at the White House. These stories were breaking overnight on Tuesday and again on Wednesday morning, and by Thursday he was out of the White House.”
Marc Short said Rob Porter left “by Wednesday morning” on ‘Meet the Press.’
“Because I do know what General Kelly has told me which is he learned the full information on Tuesday and by Wednesday morning Rob Porter was out.”
Don’t even bother asking whether Porter was fired, resigned, or encouraged to stay on.
At Wednesday’s White House press briefing, Sarah Huckabee sanders said Porter was not pressured to resign.
“Rob Porter has been effective in his role as staff secretary. The president and chief of staff have full confidence in his abilities and his performance.”
By Thursday’s press briefing, the story had changed when Deputy Press Secretary Raj Shah said Porter “was terminated” on Wednesday.
“Well, Rob Porter was terminated yesterday.”
But then the story changed… again… when Shah said Porter “offered his resignation” during the same press briefing.
“He offered his resignation, and it was accepted.”
CNBC: “‘Forty minutes later he was gone,’ Kelly added Friday. Pressed for further clarification about whether he ordered Porter’s termination, at first Kelly said ‘yes.’ But then he quickly added: ‘Actually, he made the decision 40 minutes later.’”
But according to Porter himself, White House officials encouraged him to “stay and fight.”
Axios: “White House Staff Secretary Rob Porter is telling associates that some senior White House officials strongly encouraged him to ‘stay and fight,’ and claims he ‘never misrepresented anything’ to Chief of Staff John Kelly.”
When did John Kelly learn about the abuse allegations? The story continues to change.
Was it in November? That’s what Kelly said on Friday night.
“In November, I got an update about some of the investigations, and the update was that there were some things that needed to be looked into and literally that was it.”
Or did Kelly just find out, since he was so “shocked” by the “new” allegations last Wednesday…
“I was shocked by the new allegations released today against Rob Porter.”
…Which is weird, since Kelly defended Porter on Tuesday in response to questions about the abuse allegations in an interview with the Daily Mail.
“Rob Porter is a man of true integrity and honor, and I 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.
Not to mention the fact that the White House Counsel has known about the allegations for over a year.
Washington Post: “In January 2017, when McGahn learned of the allegations, he wanted Porter to stay put because he saw the Harvard Law-trained Capitol Hill veteran as a steadying, professional voice in the White House, according to people familiar with the matter. His view didn’t change in June when the FBI flagged some of its findings to the White House. Nor did he act in September when he learned that the domestic violence claims were delaying Porter’s security clearance, or in November when Porter’s former girlfriend contacted him about the allegations, according to these people.”
Did John Kelly decide to take a harsher tone toward Porter because of the images? Depends on who you ask.
Raj Shah said the “shocking” new pieces of information Kelly referred to were “particularly the images.”
“Yeah, and it’s the full nature of the allegation, particularly the images.”
But Kelly himself said he “didn’t even know” about the pictures when he found out that “the accusations were true.”
CNBC: “On Friday, when asked to clarify the timeline of what happened, Kelly said that he found out Tuesday night ‘that the accusations were true.’ Porter officially resigned Wednesday, after photos of an ex-wife's bruised face were published… Kelly said Friday he ‘didn’t even know’ on Tuesday night about pictures that showed bruises on the face of one of Porter’s ex-wives”
Does Trump believe the women? Doesn’t sound like it.
CNBC: “White House chief of staff John Kelly said Friday that he found out Tuesday night that the domestic abuse accusations against top aide Rob Porter were true.”
CNN: “Conway told CNN she was ‘horrified’ by the allegations, adding, ‘I have no reason not to believe these women.’ ‘In this case, you have contemporaneous police reports, you have women speaking to the FBI under threat of perjury ... you have photographs, and when you look at all of that pulled together, Rob Porter did the right thing by resigning,’ she said.”
But Trump has continued to cast doubt about the “mere allegation”…
“Peoples lives are being shattered and destroyed by a mere allegation. Some are true and some are false. Some are old and some are new. There is no recovery for someone falsely accused - life and career are gone. Is there no such thing any longer as Due Process?”
… And cited Porter’s claims that “he is innocent.”
“He also, as you probably know, says he is innocent, and I think you have to remember that. He said very strongly yesterday that he is innocent.”