White House Chief of Staff John Kelly has severely mishandled the allegations of domestic abuse against former Staff Secretary Rob Porter, numerous White House aides and advisers told The Washington Post, so much so that one said it "amounts to dereliction of duty."
Last week, Porter's two ex-wives came forward and said Porter had physically and verbally abused them during their marriages. Kelly first defended Porter, and the White House eventually landed on a timeline that had Porter's background investigation ongoing through his departure. In front of the Senate Intelligence Committee on Tuesday, FBI Director Christopher Wray contradicted this version of events, saying the White House received a partial background report on Porter last March, with the full report sent in July.
Several people told the Post that in the wake of the Porter fiasco, President Trump has been asking about possible replacements for Kelly, and many senior staffers say they believe that Kelly told them to offer a misleading timeline about the Porter accusations. He's a "big fat liar," one staffer said of the retired four-star Marine Corps general. "To put it in terms the general would understand, his handling of the Porter scandal amounts to dereliction of duty."
Kelly does not believe he should be blamed for the fallout, one confidant told the Post, and he thinks the White House communications office should take some responsibility. He also gets defensive when discussing the matter and complains that the media is making a bigger deal out of the allegations than is necessary, several people told the Post. When asked by the Post if Kelly could have been more transparent or truthful, one staffer responded: "In this White House, it's simply not in our DNA. Truthful and transparent is great, but we don't even have a coherent strategy to obfuscate." Read more about the debacle at The Washington Post. Catherine Garcia