We can’t disagree with CNN’s Chris Cillizza on some completely ridiculous comments from President Trump today on former White House staff secretary Rob Porter:
On Friday afternoon, President Donald Trump was asked his thoughts on the departure of White House staff secretary Rob Porter amid a series of allegations of domestic abuse from his ex-wives.
“He says he’s innocent and I think you have to remember that,” Trump replied. “He said very strongly yesterday that he’s innocent but you’ll have to talk to him about that.”
…”We certainly wish him well,” Trump said of Porter. “It’s obviously a very tough time for him. He did a very good job while he was in the White House. We hope that he will have a wonderful career.”
So. Tone. Deaf.
Why is the President of the United States wishing a man — who faces very credible accusations of beating at least three women — well? Why is the focus on Porter and not on the women? Who cares whether Porter will have a “wonderful career” at this point?
You may remember that Trump used a similar explanation for why he continued to support Alabama Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore in the wake of multiple allegations of sexual assault and harassment against the former judge. “You have to listen to him also,” said Trump in November. “He totally denies it.”
While Trump whistles past this particular graveyard, the fallout from Porter’s resignation may soon claim the job of Chief of Staff John Kelly. As the Washington Post explains:
At this point, it is looking more and more difficult to see how he will survive.
According to The Washington Post’s Philip Rucker and Josh Dawsey, Kelly told staff Friday to say he had decided to fire Porter within 40 minutes of learning allegations Porter abused two ex-wives were credible. Some staffers who were at the meeting left feeling that Kelly had effectively asked them to lie on his behalf.
It is extremely difficult to square that statement with everything we know. Kelly issued an initial statement Tuesday featuring effusive praise for Porter, and reports indicated that even as Porter was resigning, Kelly had urged him to stay on and fight. Even in issuing a second statement Wednesday night that said the allegations against Porter were “shocking,” Kelly stood by his earlier statement that Porter was “a man of true integrity and honor, and I can’t say enough good things about him.”
More important, though, that this leaked out so quickly suggests Kelly has lost the confidence of his staff. When you combine this with that letter he sent to them Thursday night assuring them he takes domestic violence seriously, it suggests serious unrest in the West Wing and a chief of staff who is treading water with the staff he leads.
Kelly obviously hasn’t learned much from serving Trump in the White House. All Kelly has to do to keep his job is to deny everything to Trump — as long as you say you didn’t do it, everything is gravy. As Paul Waldman writes for the Washington Post, the President “takes men’s protestations of innocence over allegations like this very, very seriously.”