It’s not exactly news at this point that the Trump administration has a suspiciously frayed relationship with the truth. The president seemingly makes stuff up on a regular basis, contorting the truth to fit his needs at will. For instance, he has repeatedly claimed that the tax reform plan he signed into law late last year is the largest tax cut in American history — which is demonstrably false.
Now, the Trump administration’s disregard for reality in the interest of agenda-setting has reportedly reared its head in a new way, this time in the context of the controversy over the now former White House staff secretary Rob Porter.
Porter was revealed earlier this week to allegedly be a domestic abuser, with two ex-wives of his coming forward with their allegations to that effect. The first story came out in the Daily Mail from Jennifer Willoughby, and soon after her account, one came out in the Intercept from Colbie Holderness.
Holderness’ account was coupled with photos of her with a black eye, an injury she says she suffered at Porter’s hand a little over ten years ago. The photos added pressure to the White House to not simply dismiss the allegations against the Trump confidante Porter.
Senior White House aide Rob Porter physically assaulted two ex-wives, they tell @theintercept. Full story to come in the morning.
His first wife, Colbie Holderness, provided these photos from a vacation they took together in Florence, Italy: pic.twitter.com/tl3TbyGA8Y
— Ryan Grim (@ryangrim) February 7, 2018
On Wednesday, Porter announced his resignation in the face of the allegations against him, but not before both White House chief of staff John Kelly and White House press secretary Sarah Sanders fit in one last word of praise for the credibly alleged abuser, comments which were included in that initial Daily Mail story.
Kelly’s statement offered at the time went as follows:
‘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.’
It was only after Porter resigned on Wednesday — something Sanders insisted he did of his own accord, not under pressure from the White House — that Kelly offered a statement condemning the actions of which Porter is accused, saying that he was “shocked by the new allegations” against the Trump ally.
Now, according to The Washington Post, Kelly is attempting a bit of internal revisionist history at the Trump White House.
Although there is literal public evidence to the apparent contrary, Kelly reportedly told staffers at a Friday meeting “to say he took action to remove Porter within 40 minutes of learning abuse allegations from two ex-wives were credible,” adding a directive for “subordinates to convey to other White House aides he cares about domestic violence.”
To be clear, the allegations against Porter are credible enough to have underscored the man never getting a permanent security clearance during the entire time that he was in the White House, and Kelly is credibly reported to have been aware of why one of his chief subordinates lacked a clearance for months.
Through all of this, Kelly wants us to believe that he worked quickly to remove Porter after learning of the allegations against him? Really? How stupid does he think we are? After Friday’s meeting, participants reportedly “expressed disbelief with one another and felt his latest account was not true.”
Many of us can no doubt sympathize with reporter Adam Rawnsley, who quipped Friday that he was “[t]rying to imagine all the horrible things John Kelly would be saying about Porter’s ex wives right now if Colbie Holderness hadn’t had the wherewithal to document her bruises with photos.”
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