Categories for A- Trump People
NATIONAL SECURITY/TRUMP PEOPLE: “From speeding to pot smoking to, in one case, ownership of a Canadian brewery, rank-and-file government employees often see their security clearances challenged, denied or revoked for issues they consider relatively minor. Which makes them all the more frustrated to see White House staffers with major red flags in their backgrounds given permission to handle classified information.
Lawyers say they’ve seen government workers and federal contractors run into serious clearance problems over occasional marijuana use, routine debts or small-scale foreign investments while top Trump officials like former staff secretary Rob Porter worked with a clearance for about a year despite allegations of spousal abuse. President Donald Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, continues to hold a clearance despite owing tens of millions of dollars in debt — some owed to a German bank…
During the Obama administration, one Defense Department contractor had his clearance proposed for denial on the grounds that he had investments in Canada, according to the man’s lawyer… White House chief of staff John Kelly issued a five-page memo last week owning up, in general terms, to a poorly run process. He’s ordered a crackdown of sorts, particularly on interim clearances. The changes could put Kelly in conflict with Kushner, who has reportedly been working with an interim clearance, unless Trump grants his son-in-law and adviser a special dispensation…
The Porter scandal and scrutiny of Kushner’s clearance has cast a bright light on the White House’s approach to clearance, one that lawyers in the field say smacks of special treatment… The FBI conducts background investigations of White House officials seeking security clearances and makes recommendations that the White House can overrule. Employees for other departments and agencies are typically assessed by Office of Personnel Management investigators or contractors.”
-Josh Gerstein and Darren Samuelsohn, “Pot smoking vs. spousal abuse: Security clearance double standard alleged,” Politico, Feb. 22, 2018 05:00am
FBI/GUNS/RUSSIA/TRUMP AS PRESIDENT/TRUMP PEOPLE: “White House press secretary Sarah Sanders tried to finesse a weekend tweet from President Donald Trump blaming the FBI’s Russia investigation for missing a tip about the Florida shooting, saying the agency should not focus on a ‘hoax in terms of investigating the Trump campaign.’…
Sanders, speaking to reporters Tuesday in her first briefing since the shooting, said the President wasn’t saying ‘necessarily’ that the Russia investigation was responsible for the FBI missing the signs on the Florida shooter.
‘I think he was speaking not necessarily that is the cause. I think we all have to be aware that the cause of this was a deranged individual that made a decision to take the lives of 17 other people,’ Sanders said. ‘That is the responsibility of the shooter, certainly not the responsibility of anybody else.’
She added: ‘I think he is making the point that we would like our FBI agencies to not be focused on something that is clearly a hoax in terms of investigating the Trump campaign.'”
-Dan Merica, “Sanders says Trump wasn’t blaming Florida shooting on FBI Russia investigation,” CNN Politics, CNN.com, Feb. 20, 2018 06:07pm
MEDIA/TRUMP PEOPLE: “By the time the furor over a presidential aide accused of spousal abuse reached week two, the White House account of what happened became less clear, not more. The contradictions were multiplying. The daily news briefing was filled with caveats…
The rule of thumb for crisis communications in any White House is to get a complete and accurate account of events out quickly, if for no other reason than to keep a negative story from lasting longer than it otherwise might. But President Trump’s White House has thrown out the rule book in so many ways. The continuing questions about Rob Porter, the staff secretary who resigned after being accused of abusing two former wives, have provided a case study in how shifting stories can make matters worse…
Critics say the conflicting accounts stem from the top, from a president who has made so many false statements or given so many contradictory versions of the truth in so many instances that even his own advisers cannot trust him… This is not the first White House where that has happened, of course, but lessons from past experience suggest why it can be corrosive.”
-Peter Baker, “The White House Flouts the First Rule of Crisis Communications: Get the Facts Out Fast,” The New York Times online, Feb. 15, 2018
2016 ELECTION/LEGAL/TRUMP AS PRESIDENT/TRUMP PEOPLE: “Michael Cohen, personal lawyer to President Donald Trump, says that a month before the 2016 presidential election he paid $130,000 of his own money to porn star Stormy Daniels, who has in the past alleged she had a sexual encounter with Trump.
There is already a pending complaint filed before the Federal Election Commission (FEC) by the group Common Cause, alleging that a hush money payment to Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Cliffords, by the Trump campaign would violate the Federal Election Campaign Act (FECA). Common Cause also forwarded a copy of its complaint to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, and the DOJ’s Criminal Division and Public Integrity Section, requesting a criminal investigation.
Both the FEC and the Justice Department have jurisdiction over certain campaign laws, but Justice can additionally prosecute campaign act violations involving false information provided to the FEC. This includes a now-familiar charge known as “Section 1001,” or making a materially false statement to the federal government.
The FEC and the Justice Department can impose fines of up to double the amount paid ($260,000). The Justice Department also can criminally prosecute such crimes, which are punishable by up to five years in prison. Trump has denied that any encounter with Daniels took place. Any hush money paid to Daniels might have violated FECA reporting requirements, no matter the source.”
-Danny Cevallos, “Legal landmines could complicate Trump lawyer Cohen’s $130,000 payment to porn star Stormy Daniels,” NBC News, Feb. 15, 2018 10:23am
REINCE PRIEBUS/TRUMP AS PRESIDENT/TRUMP PEOPLE: “Reports of chaos and disorganization inside the White House through the first months of President Donald Trump’s administration are accurate, former chief of staff Reince Priebus said. In fact, Priebus said, those reports understated the truth of the Trump administration’s beginnings.
‘Take everything you’ve heard and multiply it by 50,’ Priebus told author Chris Whipple, whose book on White House chiefs of staff, ‘The Gatekeepers,’ will be released in paperback next month with a new chapter on the Trump administration. Excerpts of the new chapter were published Wednesday [2-14-18] by Vanity Fair.
Priebus, a former head of the Republican National Committee who oversaw the party’s seizure of both chambers of Congress and the White House, lasted just six months as Trump’s chief of staff, a period that ranked among the most tumultuous times of any modern American presidency. Reports of infighting and confusion during Priebus’ tenure as chief of staff were nearly ubiquitous, which Priebus himself blamed on outside forces, the president’s unique personality and his ambitious agenda.”
-Louis Nelson, “Priebus on White House chaos: ‘Take everything you’ve heard and multiply it by 50’,” Politico, Feb. 15, 2018 09:41am
FBI/INTELLIGENCE/JOHN KELLY/NATIONAL SECURITY/TRUMP PEOPLE: “Nine days into the Rob Porter scandal, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders is pushing for senior officials who made the decisions surrounding the former White House staff secretary’s security clearance to take over the task of explaining—and defending—those decisions to the public.
Since Tuesday [2-13-18], when FBI director Chris Wray in testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee contradicted her account of how Porter’s background check was handled, Sanders has moved to have White House counsel Don McGahn or chief of staff John Kelly brief the press directly, according to a person close to the White House.
The issue remained unresolved at the time Wednesday’s briefing was canceled due to a school shooting in Florida that left 17 dead, according to the person… A senior administration official said later Wednesday that Kelly had been set to take the podium until the decision was made to cancel it. The White House denied there was any plan for Kelly to brief reporters Wednesday. Sanders did not respond to a request for comment.”
-Darren Samuelsohn, Matthew Nussbaum, Andrew Restuccia, and Eliana Johnson, “Sanders pushes for Kelly to face the press over Porter scandal,” Politico, Feb. 14, 2018 10:10pm
TRUMP AS PRESIDENT/TRUMP PEOPLE: “President Donald Trump broke days of silence on the matter of spousal abuse, saying on Wednesday [2-14-18] he was opposed to all manner of domestic violence.
‘I’m totally opposed to domestic violence. And everybody here knows that,’ Trump said in the Oval Office. ‘I’m totally opposed to domestic violence of any kind. Everyone knows that. And it almost wouldn’t even have to be said. So, now you hear it, but you all know.’
Trump had remained silent on his views toward domestic violence as a controversy has swirled over former White House aide Rob Porter, who was accused of abusing his ex-wives. Porter denies all the allegations against him.
Trump had repeatedly declined opportunities to speak out on the matter. Instead, he praised Porter’s character and said accused abusers are owed due process. But White House press secretary Sarah Sanders has said ‘the President and the entire administration take domestic violence very seriously and believe all allegations need to be investigated thoroughly.’
Trump, given the range of sexual harassment and assault allegations against him, has long struggled to respond to the nationwide focus on the mistreatment of women… The White House — through Sanders and others — has dismissed all the allegations against him as old news that had been litigated during the 2016 campaign.”
-Kevin Liptak, “Trump: ‘I’m totally opposed to domestic violence’,” CNN Politics, CNN.com, Feb. 14, 2018 03:18pm
FBI/NATIONAL SECURITY/TRUMP PEOPLE: “The House Oversight Committee on Wednesday [2-14-18] asked Chief of Staff John Kelly and FBI Director Christopher Wray to answer questions about the White House’s security clearance policy and their handling of domestic-abuse allegations against former adviser Rob Porter…
Mr. Gowdy said the committee was seeking to learn what information was available to the White House when it granted Mr. Porter an interim security clearance last January, who had granted the clearance, and what ‘derogatory information’ was subsequently provided to the White House about Mr. Porter, and to whom.
Mr. Gowdy asked both men to provide ‘the date on which any White House employee became aware of potential derogatory or disqualifying information on Porter from the date of his appointment to Feb. 12, 2018, and which individual was so notified,’ according to the letter. He also asked for the date on which Mr. Porter was granted an interim clearance.
In the letter to Mr. Wray, Mr. Gowdy asked whether the FBI had ‘played any role’ in adjudicating Mr. Porter’s security clearance, and if that adjudication had been consistent with standard practice. The FBI is responsible for conducting background checks on West Wing officials, but the decision on whether to issue a security clearance rests with the White House, legal experts said. The committee gave Messrs. Kelly and Wray a deadline of Feb. 28 to answer the committee’s questions. The White House didn’t respond to a request for comment.”
-Rebecca Ballhaus, “Lawmakers Ask Kelly, Wray About Rob Porter Security Clearance,” The Wall Street Journal online, Feb. 14, 2018 12:20pm
HOUSE OF REPS/TRUMP PEOPLE: “The House Oversight Committee has opened an investigation into the White House’s employment of Rob Porter, a former adviser accused of domestic abuse, its chairman said Wednesday [2-14-18].
Asked in a CNN interview whether the panel would launch an investigation of the White House’s employment of Mr. Porter and its awareness of the allegations against him, Rep. Trey Gowdy (R., S.C.), said: ‘We did last night.’…
Mr. Gowdy said he planned to direct questions in particular to the Federal Bureau of Investigation… FBI Director Christopher Wray on Tuesday said his agency had first flagged parts of its background check on Mr. Porter to the White House in March, providing a timeline that conflicted with the West Wing’s chronology. The White House had said repeatedly in recent days that the background check on Mr. Porter was ‘ongoing.’ Mr. Wray, speaking to the Senate Intelligence Committee in Washington, said the FBI closed its file on Mr. Porter in January…
Mr. Porter served in the White House for more than a year with a temporary security clearance, despite accusations from two former wives that he had been physically abusive. Mr. Porter has denied the accusations, and resigned a week ago—more than 10 months after the FBI had first flagged issues in his background check to the White House.”
-Rebecca Ballhaus, “Lawmakers Launch Probe of Rob Porter’s White House Employment,” The Wall Street Journal online, Feb. 14, 2018 11:21am
GOP/NATIONAL SECURITY/NOMINATIONS/TRUMP PEOPLE: “Republican lawmakers raised questions Wednesday [2-14-18] about the Trump administration’s security clearance process and an oversight panel launched an investigation, as the controversy surrounding former aide Rob Porter starts to eat into Capitol Hill’s confidence in President Donald Trump’s White House.
Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) said his House Oversight Committee on Tuesday night kicked off an investigation into Trump’s employment of Porter — the White House staff secretary who resigned last week — and what White House officials knew about domestic abuse accusations against him… Senior White House officials, including chief of staff John Kelly, have struggled to explain why Porter was allowed to stay on with only an interim security clearance and despite the existence of a protective order granted to one of his ex-wives. The White House says senior staff were not fully aware of the scope of the allegations until last week, but administration officials said Kelly and White House counsel Don McGahn knew the broad outlines last year.
Asked about Gowdy’s investigation into the Porter scandal Wednesday, Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) said he had been informed of the probe and believes the White House has to improve its vetting system for employees…
Three Democrats plan to introduce legislation Wednesday to give Congress greater oversight of the White House’s security clearance process.”
-Louis Nelson, “Lawmakers question Trump’s security procedures after Porter resignation,” Politico, Feb. 14, 2018 11:05am
FBI/LEGAL/TRUMP PEOPLE: “The head of the Federal Bureau of Investigation said his agency first flagged issues with its background check of Rob Porter to the administration in March, a timeline that conflicts with what the White House said it knew about the former aide’s past.
Mr. Porter resigned last week amid accusations that he physically abused two ex-wives. He has denied the allegations.
Director Christopher Wray told the Senate Intelligence Committee on Tuesday that the FBI last year gave multiple updates to the White House on its findings about Mr. Porter. After sharing a partial report on Mr. Porter in March, the FBI provided its completed background check on Mr. Porter to the White House in July, Mr. Wray said. The White House asked follow-up questions, he said, and the FBI provided answers to those in November… The FBI is responsible for conducting background checks on White House officials, but the decision on whether to issue a clearance rests with the White House.
Mr. Wray’s timeline strayed from the sequence of events offered by White House officials, who have said repeatedly in recent days that the FBI’s investigation into Mr. Porter was ‘ongoing.’
The White House has sought to shift the focus away from its handling of domestic-abuse allegations against Mr. Porter, facing criticism for allowing the aide to remain in his influential position inside the president’s inner circle.”
-Michael C. Bender, Rebecca Ballhaus, and Peter Nicholas, “FBI Director’s Timeline of Porter Probe Contradicts White House,” The Wall Street Journal online, Feb. 13, 2018 01:31pm
FBI/LEGAL/TRUMP PEOPLE: “Rob Porter was involved in serious discussions to be promoted when he abruptly resigned from the White House last week amid allegations that he abused his two ex-wives, multiple sources familiar with the matter tell CNN.
His anticipated elevation further highlights how top White House officials were willing to overlook indications from the FBI that there were potential abuse allegations in his background in exchange for professional competence in a tumultuous West Wing.
Porter had been actively lobbying to take on new policy portfolios outside the traditional scope of the staff secretary, one person familiar with the matter said, which included speechwriting duties and a role in planning policy rollouts. Neither of those tasks is traditionally carried out by the staff secretary…
He was also being considered for the deputy chief of staff position, another source familiar with the situation said. CNN reported Friday that Jim Carroll, who served as the deputy chief of staff for less than three months, was stepping down to helm the Office of National Drug Control Policy.
Several White House officials, including chief of staff John Kelly, were receptive to promoting Porter. Kelly had told associates that Porter was one of the few competent professionals on his staff and wanted to ensure that he was being used to his full potential. CNN has reported that Kelly was aware for months of the potential that Porter’s ex-wives could present damaging information on him.”
-Kaitlan Collins and Kevin Liptak, “Porter was up for promotion despite abuse allegations,” CNN.com, CNN Politics, Feb. 13, 2018 12:32pm
TRUMP AS PRESIDENT/TRUMP PEOPLE: “Donald Trump is breaking records! Just not in a good way. More than one in three Trump administration staffers have left the White House in its first year, a pace that far eclipses the rate of departures in the previous five White Houses, according to a study done by Kathryn Dunn Tenpas of the Brookings Institute. The pace of resignations, firings and other assorted departures from the Trump White House is twice what it was in George W. Bush’s first year as president and triple that of Barack Obama’s first year in office. And, it’s not just any sorts of departures; a large number of Trump’s senior-most staff have left in the first year alone. Writes Dunn Tenpas:
‘Six of the 12 Tier One positions saw turnover… By comparison, Obama lost one adviser from Tier One (Greg Craig, White House counsel), and George W. Bush did not see any turnover in these high-level positions.’ And her paper came out in mid-January — meaning that Dunn Tenpas missed a number of more recent departures, including former staff secretary Rob Porter; Rachel Brand, the third-ranking official in the Justice Department; and speechwriter David Sorensen, all of whom left in the last week.
Look at this picture. It includes some people, like former campaign chairman Paul Manafort, who were never at the White House, but who unceremoniously left Trump’s orbit. Others didn’t work directly at the White House, but have featured prominently in the Trump administration. And Manafort, by the way, has been charged by special counsel Robert Mueller with money laundering and filing false foreign lobbying reports. See if you can name all of the people — each one of whom has left the White House or Trump’s orbit — in it…. You get the idea. Lots and lots — and lots — of people have left this White House at very senior levels in a very short period of time…
There’s very little continuity or comity in the Trump White House. The staff turmoil and turnover shows no signs of slowing or stopping. Chief of staff John Kelly remains under fire for his handling of the Porter situation. Communications director Hope Hicks, who had been romantically linked to Porter, has come in for further scrutiny and criticism too of late. And it’s only Tuesday.”
-Chris Cillizza, “People are leaving the Trump White House in record numbers,” CNN Politics, CNN.com, Feb. 13, 2018 12:25pm
TRUMP AS PRESIDENT/TRUMP PEOPLE: “The ex-wife of former White House speechwriter David Sorensen — who resigned last week amid allegations that he abused her — is disputing President Donald Trump’s suggestion that Sorenson didn’t receive due process. Jessica Corbett, who first came forward with the allegations last week, told NBC’s ‘Today’ in an exclusive interview that aired Tuesday [2-13-18] that she was the one being mistreated.
‘I got no due process,’ she said, addressing Trump’s tweet last week that Sorensen may have been ‘falsely accused.’ The president also suggested there was ‘no such thing any longer as Due Process.’…
She said her ex-husband ‘got due process when I answered the FBI agents truthfully,’ adding that she only spoke to the FBI after the agency contacted her last year about Sorenson’s security clearance for his White House post… The Washington Post first reported on Corbett’s allegations of physical and emotional abuse last week.
Sorensen, in a statement to NBC News Friday night, denied the allegations. A White House official said that Sorensen’s position did not require a security clearance, but there was an ongoing background check. Sorensen’s resignation came just days after White House staff secretary Rob Porter departed after his two ex-wives went public with allegations of domestic violence during their marriages to him.”
-Adam Edelman, “Ex-wife of accused WH aide rips Trump for suggesting he didn’t get ‘due process’,” NBC News, Feb. 13, 2018 10:30am
MIKE PENCE/TRUMP AS PRESIDENT/TRUMP PEOPLE: “Omarosa Manigault Newman, the three-time ‘Apprentice’ contestant and fired White House staffer, told fellow contestants on her current reality television show there’s more reason to fear Mike Pence in the Oval Office than Donald Trump…
Manigault Newman’s latest comments touch on a favorite parlor game of some anti-Trump politicians and members of the self-proclaimed resistance who look at Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation and other controversies surrounding Trump and speculate on the possibility he’s removed or resigns from office.
That would most likely elevate Pence, a former governor of Indiana and House member who is known for being socially conservative and disciplined. On the campaign trail, Pence often quipped that he was ‘a Christian, a conservative and a Republican — in that order.’ Pence as governor was forced to sign a law banning discrimination based on sexual or gender identity after LGBT groups joined with moderate members of his party and business groups to decry his Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
‘He’s extreme. I’m Christian, I love Jesus, but he thinks Jesus tells him to say things. I’m like, *Jesus ain’t say that.*’ Manigault Newman said. ‘It’s scary.’ “
-Terrence Dopp, “Omarosa Says a President Pence Would Leave People Begging for Trump,” Bloomberg, Feb. 13, 2018 05:28am
NATIONAL SECURITY/TRUMP PEOPLE: “The doors at the White House have been swinging a lot lately. A deputy chief of staff moved on. A speechwriter resigned. The associate attorney general stepped down. The chief of staff offered to quit. And that was just Friday [2-9-18].
All of that came after the departure of Rob Porter, the White House staff secretary who cleared out his office last week amid accusations of spousal abuse… More than a year into his administration, President Trump is presiding over a staff in turmoil, one with a 34 percent turnover rate, higher than any White House in decades. He has struggled to fill openings, unwilling to hire Republicans he considers disloyal and unable to entice Republicans who consider him unstable. Those who do come to work for him often do not last long, burning out from a volatile, sometimes cutthroat environment exacerbated by tweets and subpoenas…
Mr. Trump is on his second press secretary, his second national security adviser and his third deputy national security adviser. Five different people have been named communications director or served in the job in an acting capacity. The president has parted ways with his chief strategist, health secretary, several deputy chiefs of staff and his original private legal team. He is on his second chief of staff — and some wonder whether a third may be in the offing soon.”
-Peter Baker, “A Whirlwind Envelops the White House, and the Revolving Door Spins,” The New York Times online, Feb. 12, 2018
JOHN KELLY/NATIONAL SECURITY/TRUMP PEOPLE: “The furor over spousal abuse allegations that forced the resignation of one of President Trump’s top advisers last week has exposed fissures within the White House that had been papered over since John F. Kelly took over last summer as chief of staff with a mandate to end the dysfunction.
Aides to the president said they remained confused and upset over the handling of the accusations against Rob Porter, the staff secretary who stepped down. Days after his departure, the White House was still struggling on Sunday [2-11-18] to provide a consistent explanation of who knew what and when, even as questions swirled about whether anyone might be felled as a result.
While said to be frustrated with Mr. Kelly over this and other issues, Mr. Trump sought this weekend to tamp down talk that he would be pushed out, instructing an aide scheduled to appear on television to report that the president still had confidence in his chief of staff. But other advisers to Mr. Trump maintained that his staff had let him down and that someone else should be held accountable… Mr. Kelly privately told colleagues at the White House on Friday that he was willing to resign over his handling of Mr. Porter’s case if Mr. Trump desired, but presidential aides said no resignation was formally offered or drafted.”
-Peter Baker and Maggie Haberman, “Abuse Case Exposes Fissures in a White House in Turmoil,” The New York Times online, Feb. 11, 2018
LEGAL/TRUMP PEOPLE: “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?”
-Donald Trump, Twitter.com, Feb. 10, 2018 10:33am
JOHN KELLY/TRUMP PEOPLE: “Among the many people agitated this week over John F. Kelly, the White House chief of staff, was President Trump. And among the people the president called to express dissatisfaction, according to those close to him, was none other than Reince Priebus, the previous chief of staff, who also irritated Mr. Trump…
For now, it is Mr. Kelly who is in trouble. The president has little tolerance for aides who attract negative media attention that spills onto him, and in recent days Mr. Kelly has drawn a string of unwelcome headlines. He roiled negotiations over immigration legislation by declaring that some immigrants were ‘too lazy’ to apply for legal status. And he initially defended a deputy accused by two ex-wives of physically abusing them.
All of which has again fired up the will-he-last speculation that has erupted periodically in the six months Mr. Kelly has been in office. Mr. Trump has recently asked advisers what they think of Mick Mulvaney, who currently holds twin posts as director of the White House budget office and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, as a possible chief of staff, according to two people briefed on the discussions.”
-Peter Baker and Maggie Haberman, “Unwelcome Attention for John Kelly, the Man Enlisted to Bring Calm,” The New York Times online, Feb. 8, 2018
DRUGS/PHARMA/TRUMP PEOPLE: “White House deputy chief of staff Jim Carroll, who has served in that role for nearly three months, is expected to leave the White House to helm the Office of National Drug Control Policy, two sources with knowledge of the decision told CNN Friday [2-9-18].
Carroll, a White House lawyer who quietly became one of chief of staff John Kelly’s deputies late last year, is expected to be tapped to become the administration’s drug czar as early as Friday, two sources with knowledge of the decision told CNN. The White House’s first nominee to lead the office, Rep. Tom Marino, withdrew from consideration in October after a report detailed how legislation he sponsored helped make it easier for drug companies to distribute opioids across America.
It was not immediately clear when Carroll would leave his current role, but news of Carroll’s expected departure comes on the heels of the resignation of White House staff secretary Rob Porter, who cleared out his desk on Thursday after allegations of domestic abuse against him became public.
A White House spokesman declined to comment on Friday.”
-Jeremy Diamond, “Top White House official to leave West Wing to become drug czar,” CNN Politics, CNN.com, Feb. 9, 2018 05:28pm
FBI/JOHN KELLY/TRUMP PEOPLE: “White House chief of staff John Kelly was told several weeks ago that the FBI would recommend denying full security clearances to multiple White House aides who had been working in the West Wing on interim security clearances. Those aides, according to a senior administration official, included former White House staff secretary Rob Porter, who left the White House on Thursday [2-8-18] after reports that he physically and verbally abused his two ex-wives. The White House chief-of-staff told confidants in recent weeks that he had decided to fire anyone who had been denied a clearance — but had yet to act on that plan before the Porter allegations were first reported this week.
Kelly’s inaction has produced what may be the deepest crisis of his seven months on the job, unleashing a cascade of questions about whether Trump – who was accused by multiple women during the 2016 campaign of sexual impropriety – and his closest advisers take violence against women seriously at a time when the #MeToo movement has called other politicians, media moguls and entertainment icons to account… Those close to Kelly say they’re puzzled about why the former Marine general, whose singular focus since joining the West Wing in July has been to eliminate irregularities and chaos, failed to follow through on his determination to push out aides denied a permanent clearance… Interim security clearances are typically granted on a temporary basis while the FBI conducts a broad investigation as a part of the regular clearance process. That process includes interviews with an applicant’s friends, colleagues, and spouses, as well as with the applicant himself.”
-Eliana Johnson, “Kelly knew before abuse reports that Porter would be denied security clearance,” Politico, Feb. 9, 2018 11:12am
POLITICS/TRUMP PEOPLE: “Omarosa Manigault-Newman, the ‘Apprentice’ star turned White House aide, dished on her time in the Trump administration and her former boss’ penchant for Twitter.
‘I was haunted by tweets every single day, like what is he going to tweet next?’ a tearful Manigault-Newman said in the teaser clip for Thursday’s [2-8-18] episode of ‘Celebrity Big Brother,’ the reality show on which she is a contestant.
Manigault-Newman claimed that when she attempted to reason with President Donald Trump about some of his tweets, she was “attacked” and denied access by ‘all of the people around him,’ including Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, and daughter Ivanka Trump.
Manigault-Newman described the situation inside the White House as ‘bad.’ Asked whether the nation should be concerned about the administration, she nodded, adding, ‘it’s going to not be OK.’
White House principal deputy press secretary Raj Shah dismissed Manigault-Newman’s comments at a news briefing Thursday.”
-Jennifer Hansler, “Omarosa: ‘I was haunted by tweets every single day’,” CNN Politics, CNN.com, Feb. 9, 2018 10:59am
TRUMP AS PRESIDENT/TRUMP PEOPLE: “President Donald Trump has grown increasingly frustrated with Hope Hicks, his communications director and one of his closest confidantes, amid the fallout from the Rob Porter scandal, people familiar with the matter say. Meanwhile, the President has told associates he’s dismayed at how the allegations involving his former staff secretary accused of domestic abuse were handled, but he isn’t certain how to solve the mushrooming controversy, a person familiar with the conversations tells CNN.
Trump was not consulted when Hicks and several other aides drafted a White House statement defending Porter, and he is under the impression that Hicks has let her romantic relationship with Porter cloud her judgment, a source familiar said.
In the aftermath, Trump has told associates he feels that Hicks put her own priorities ahead of his. However, there is little to indicate that Hicks’ standing is in jeopardy.
Speaking during the White House briefing on Thursday, spokesman Raj Shah said Hicks had recused herself from some matters related to the Porter fallout. Porter was in the building for a short period to clean out his desk, Shah said.
Hicks continued to privately defend Porter to her White House colleagues Thursday, a source familiar said.
The White House did not respond to questions about Hicks on Friday morning.”
-Kaitlan Collins and Kevin Liptak, “Trump frustrated with Hicks’ role in Porter scandal,” CNN.com, CNN Politics, Feb. 9, 2018 10:53am
JOHN KELLY/TRUMP PEOPLE: “The White House said Thursday [2-8-18] it could have better handled the domestic-abuse allegations that led to the resignation of staff secretary Rob Porter, as the president’s chief of staff faced mounting questions about how he dealt with the accusations…
Scrutiny focused on chief of staff John Kelly, who worked closely with Mr. Porter and was aware of abuse allegations, according to White House officials. Mr. Shah said Thursday that Mr. Kelly became ‘fully aware’ of the allegations Wednesday.
When accusations from both of Mr. Porter’s ex-wives were first published on Tuesday, Mr. Kelly offered a full-throated defense of Mr. Porter, who had become one of Mr. Kelly’s most trusted aides in an increasingly small circle of West Wing staff. Mr. Kelly then issued a second statement Wednesday night saying he was ‘shocked’ as more details of the allegations emerged.
One White House official said that Mr. Kelly has known about allegations against Mr. Porter for months. Mr. Shah said that Mr. Kelly didn’t know the extent of the allegations until Wednesday, when photos of Colbie Holderness, Mr. Porter’s first wife, were published showing a black eye that she said she sustained during a vacation with Mr. Porter in Italy…
President Donald Trump became aware of the allegations on Tuesday, Mr. Shah said. The president was saddened by the accusations of abuse, Mr. Shah said. Mr. Trump continues to have full confidence in Mr. Kelly, he said… Mr. Kelly then agreed to have a statement released in his name based on that conversation. The official said Mr. Kelly was misled by Mr. Porter in that discussion.”
-Michael C. Bender and Peter Nicholas, “White House Offers Regrets About Handling of Rob Porter Allegations,” The Wall Street Journal online, Feb. 8, 2018 10:93pm
TRUMP PEOPLE: “Rob Porter will be out as early as Thursday [2-8-18], a senior White House official said Wednesday night, in another signal the West Wing is scrambling to contain the fallout over his continued employment even though officials were aware of the domestic abuse allegations against him.
Porter, a top White House staffer, resigned from his position Wednesday after allegations of domestic abuse were made public by his two ex-wives. Porter has denied their allegations.
A top aide to White House chief of staff John Kelly, Porter was initially defended by glowing White House statements in spite of his resignation… But Wednesday evening, Kelly issued a new statement…
Porter had told people in the West Wing, including Kelly, that his exes were trying to smear him, according to the official. The official disputed the assertion that Kelly knew all of these details for months, though other sources told CNN he was aware. It wasn’t until last week that Kelly knew he had been twice married, this official said.”
-Jeff Zeleny and Sophie Tatum, “White House scrambles to contain Porter fallout,” CNN Politics, CNN.com, Feb. 7, 2018 10:25pm