Senior White House Aides Say Kelly Pressured Them To Lie For Him
by Tyler Durden
For a moment yesterday afternoon, it appeared as if White House Chief of Staff John Kelly would weather what will likely be remembered as the ‘Rob Porter spousal abuse controversy’. During the daily press briefing, Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders maintained that there weren’t any discrepancies between the initial timeline of events offered by Kelly and a new timeline that FBI Chief Christopher Wray offered during Senate testimony.
But this morning, Bloomberg is back with another story about the collection of internal and external advisers to the president whispering in his ear that his well-respected chief of staff must go, despite their ostensibly tight bond.
Some of that animosity is directly tied to Kelly’s handling of the Porter story, as several senior staffers reportedly told Bloomberg that the former general had asked them to lie on his behalf.
There is intense debate within the White House about what steps to take next. Trump himself has recently floated potential Kelly replacements with advisers, according to two of the people.
Several White House officials, including some allied with Kelly, no longer believe he can survive the Porter episode. Some senior staff feel he asked them to lie on his behalf.
Kelly stuck to his initial story during an interview with CNBC Tuesday, when he reiterated that Porter was gone “40 minutes” after Kelly learned the full extent of the allegations on the evening of Feb. 6. The White House contradicted Kelly by saying Porter officially left the next morning.
As we hinted at yesterday, Bloomberg notes that the episode is “likely to focus renewed attention” on other members of the White House staff who don’t already have permanent security clearances – a group that includes Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner.
Kushner was famously repeatedly called out for leaving off several meetings with foreign officials – including the then-Russian ambassador to the US – from his disclosure forms, something he blamed on a clerical error.
Several candidates have reportedly been floated to replace Kelly. These include OMB Chief Mick Mulvaney, National Economic Council Director Gary Cohn and Freedom Caucus leader Mark Meadows.
Trump has, in the past, shown a tendency to announce big firings at the end of the work week – a practice picked up, no doubt, from his previous life in the world of business.
The president – who hasn’t tweeted in a day – has yet to weigh in. Though we imagine we’ll hear something definitive soon.
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