White House chief of staff John Kelly has successfully cracked down on leaks flowing out of the West Wing since he took over in July, but he now finds himself on the receiving end of damaging leaks from senior staffers over his handling of the Rob Porter scandal.
Porter resigned as staff secretary on Tuesday after two of his ex-wives accused him of physically beating them during their marriages. Photos emerged showing each of the women with black eyes, allegedly from Porter.
Kelly has come under fire in the media for initially defending Porter as “a man of true integrity and honor” before later walking it back. Now, Kelly is being undermined by fellow White House aides.
Details of a White House staff meeting about the Porter situation on Friday were leaked to The Washington Post almost immediately. Two sources, described as senior White House officials, told the Post that Kelly instructed them to contradict the White House’s initial account of Porter’s departure.
“During a staff meeting, Kelly told those in attendance to say he took action to remove Porter within 40 minutes of learning that abuse allegations from two ex-wives were credible, according to the officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because discussions in such meetings are supposed to be confidential,” the Post reports.
The leak suggests that Kelly is losing control over at least some White House staffers, who are now willing to anonymously undermine him in the press.
White House operations have been more stable since Kelly took over as chief of staff for Reince Preibus, under whom internal bickering among White House staff was a constant feature of media reports.
Trump’s approval rating as risen 10 points since Kelly became chief of staff and is now at 49 percent, according to Rasmussen’s daily tracking poll.