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Thursday, November 30, 2023

Chief of Staff Kelly’s credibility vanishes with Porter debacle


Another black mark on the diminishing credibility of Donald Trump’s chief of staff John Kelly, who ignored warnings about staff secretary Rob Porter’s habit of beating his wives.

Kelly called Porter “a man of true integrity and honor.”

“I can’t say enough good things about him,” Kelly added.

Kelly apparently did not listen to Porter’s two ex-wives who tell harrowing stories about being victims of extreme physical and emotional abuse.

“To have a chief of staff defend the integrity of of a person who’s been credibly accused of being a wife beater is just stunning and unconscionable, Peter Wehner, a veteran of three previous GOP presidents, told The Washington Post.  “What he’s done as chief of staff doesn’t undo what he did as a heroic war figure, but it diminishes him a person and that’s regrettable.”

Even those who originally praised Trump’s selection of Kelly as chief of staff now have second thoughts.

The Porter debacle is just one of several things that have brought doubts about Kelly’s judgment and management capabilities.

He tried, and failed, to bring Trump’s incredibly improper language in calls to the families of fallen soldiers under control and try to use the loss of his son on the battlefield.  Then he falsely attacked a Democratic Congresswoman and refused to apologize.  Next came comments calling Confederate general Robert E. Lee “honorable” while claiming it was just “lack of compromise” that started the Civil War.

Less than a week ago, he called the young immigrants known as “dreamers” were just “too lazy to get off their asses.”  Many of those dreamers have degrees from prestigious American universities and building good careers.

“No credibility left for Gen. Kelly,” says one White House staff member.  “He didn’t have much left before the Porter screw up.”

Former White House chief of staff and defense secretary Leon Panetta says Kelly may be “losing his edge” because of the stress of trying to work with Trump.

Says Panetta of Kelly: “He’s more of edge these days.  That may be the result of frustration with issues and, in some ways, dealing with Trump.  When you’re a chief of staff, you spend a lot of time with this president.  It starts to wear on you.”

Even after one of Porter’s ex-wives released pictures of herself with a black eye, Kelly backed Porter.  Only after Porter resigned under fire did he issue a statement late Wednesday expressing “shock” and adding “there is no place for domestic in our society.”

The White House Thursday admitted a security clearance investigation on Portman was still underway and he was working with an interim clearance.  That investigation might have uncovered his record of spousal abuse.

Author Chris Whipple, who wrote a history of White House chiefs of staff, summed it up by saying Kelly’s handling of the Porter situation shows he is “politically inept.”

“It’s clear now that those expectations everybody had that Kelly would somehow be the grown-up in the room, a moderating force who would smooth the rough edges off of Trump, were just completely unrealistic,” Whipple told The Post.

The Post reports:

Kelly has been the target of some Trump loyalists, both inside and outside the administration, who have taken issue with his moves to control access the president. Two of these people noted privately that Kelly was far more vociferous in his defense of Porter than any White House staffer had been after the president was accused last month of having had an extramarital affair with porn star Stormy Daniels; one noted that spousal abuse is illegal but arranging “hush money” for a mistress is not.

The White House did not return phone calls seeking comment on this report.


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