John Kelly Wades Back Into Porter Scandal: ‘I Have Nothing To Consider Resigning Over’

REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

Saagar Enjeti White House Correspondent
Font Size:

White House chief of staff John Kelly offered up a detailed timeline of his handling of former staff secretary Rob Porter’s departure weeks earlier, in a Friday meeting with reporters.

Porter resigned in disgrace early February after reports surfaced of his history of beating two of his ex-wives. Kelly initially offered a statement of support for Porter before detailed reports of the abuse surfaced including a photo of Porter’s ex-wife’s black eye.

Kelly’s statement at the time said, “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.”

“The first I heard of a serious accusation against  him was on sixth of February. The accusation was late in the afternoon, and it was simply one of his two former wives,” Kelly said Friday, adding, “There was no story out yet. The story was that a wife had claimed that she had had some level of emotional abuse. That was, I want to say, 5 o’clock in the afternoon. I talked to Rob, I said ‘what’s the deal?’  He denied it. He said it’s absolutely untrue.”

At that point Kelly noted he issued a statement defending Porter before departing for a meeting on capitol hill.  “At that point in time, I thought [the statement] was accurate of my relationship with Rob Porter,” adding, “I put out a statement of support for him, and an hour later find out now there’s a second report still not in the press, still no pictures. Just an inquiry… He had already resigned. I talked to Rob again to make sure he knew he had resigned.”

Kelly also confirmed FBI Director Christopher Wray’s testimony that the FBI informed the White House in March 2017 of allegations against Porter but told reporters he did not know of any of information. “By December, January, they still had not finished evaluating, the security office, and then 6 February happened and he resigned. They still not had evaluated his package to make a recommendation one way or the other,” he explained.

Ultimately Kelly lamented the handling of the situation saying, “We didn’t cover ourselves in glory in terms of how we handled that on Wednesday morning” but defiantly added, “I have absolutely nothing to even consider resigning over.”

Follow Saagar Enjeti on Twitter