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John Kelly Defends Himself, Sees No Reason to Resign Over Porter Scandal
05 March 2018, 12:19 | Katrina Lee
White House Chief of Staff John Kelly jokes his job is a punishment from God
In recent weeks, John Kelly underwent high scrutiny, as he wrongly handled the domestic violence incident and allegations faced by Rob Porter, the ex-White House staff secretary. "Another press inquiry that a second wife had made accusations and included physical abuse", he said. That's how I found out.
The chief of staff said he engineered Porter's exit once he learned about the physical-abuse allegations, which were backed up by a photo showing ex-wife Colbie Holderness with a black eye she claims Porter gave her.
"I have absolutely nothing to even consider resigning over", he said.
"It came to my notice that the kind of things I was used to" in previous jobs, including at the Defense Department, Mr. Kelly said, were not "up to the standards I'd been used to".
He also took aim at Mr Kelly during a brief interview on Fox News Wednesday night, then again during an appearance on CNN on Thursday morning. "I never saw him mad or abusive in anyway".
Cooper also brought on Jim Acosta to discuss Kelly's comments today. At that point, there had been no resignation announcement from the White House.
"I talked to Rob and just, he resigned", Kelly said, putting a finite timestamp on his former aide's resignation.
Kelly said that by the time Porter left the White House in February, his security clearance had not been fully adjudicated one way or another by the security office.
Kelly was pressed further on the timeline.
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Cooper said the White House is "gaslighting" over this entire episode, while Kelly's comments today reportedly stunned White House staffers.
Kelly released a new statementmore than 24 hours later saying he was "shocked by the new allegations", but continued to defend Porter.
The dispute over Kelly's handling of Porter and security-clearance procedures has shaken confidence in Kelly within the White House and led to speculation that he might depart his job. Several outlets reported that Kelly believed Porter's denials at that point and even asked him to stay at the White House.
The security office then asked for more information, which the Federal Bureau of Investigation then sent back in November, Kelly added.
Expressing some regret about how the situation was handled, Kelly acknowledged: "We didn't cover ourselves in glory in terms of how we handled that".
Sanders and deputy press secretary Rob Shah initially claimed that Kelly had been unaware of the allegations against Porter because the White House security office had not yet made a decision on whether to issue a full clearance by the time the first accusations were made public.
Kushner had been working under an interim clearance that allowed him to see the some of the nation's most closely held secrets and losing that access has triggered a round of media leaks that have exposed tensions between Kelly and Kushner. "The next day, probably around 10 or 11 o'clock, somebody said Rob's still in the building", he explained.
Porter's security clearance background on February 6.
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