Administration

Vanity Fair: White House staffers questioning Kelly’s judgment after Porter's resignation

White House staffers are questioning the judgment of chief of staff John Kelly for his defense of staff secretary Rob Porter before his resignation over domestic abuse allegations on Wednesday, according to a new report.

Four Republicans close to the White House told Vanity Fair's Gabriel Sherman that Kelly's defense of Porter frustrated staffers in the White House.

"It's beyond disbelief," a former White House official told Vanity Fair, according to Sherman. "Everyone is trying to figure out why Kelly is leading the charge to save him."

Porter announced Wednesday that he would resign from his White House role after being accused of abusing his two ex-wives. Colbie Holderness and Jennifer Willoughby have alleged that the aide was physically and emotionally abusive. Holderness provided photos of injuries, including a black eye.

Kelly and White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders both issued statements of support for Porter after the initial reports of the abuse allegations surfaced Tuesday night. Kelly called him "a man of true integrity and honor." 

The White House announced Porter's resignation on Wednesday, but Porter denied the allegations.

"These outrageous allegations are simply false. I took the photos given to the media nearly 15 years ago and the reality behind them is nowhere close to what is being described. I have been transparent and truthful about these vile claims, but I will not further engage publicly with a coordinated smear campaign," he said in a statement.

Sanders told reporters that Porter's exit would not be "immediate" so he could assist with his replacement's transition.

"Rob has been effective in his role as staff secretary, and the president and chief of staff have had full confidence and trust in his abilities and his performance," Sanders said.

Porter was a top aide to Kelly in the White House and was responsible for the paper flow to President Trump's desk in the West Wing.

CBS News reported that the allegations against Porter prevented him from obtaining a full security clearance. Multiple people in the White House were aware of the allegations before they were reported by media, according to reports.

"As has always been our policy, we do not comment on security clearances," Sanders said in a statement.

--This report was update on Feb. 14 at 5:44 a.m.

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