Mar 2, 2018

John Kelly admits the White House dropped the ball on Rob Porter

John Kelly in the State Dining Room of the White House. Photo: Yuri Gripas / Bloomberg via Getty Images

In an impromptu off-the-record briefing with reporters Friday, White House chief of staff John Kelly went on-the-record to discuss how the White House mishandled the Rob Porter scandal. He added that it opened his eyes to the number of staffers who were still working under interim security clearances, noting that it was “more people than I was comfortable with.”

We didn’t cover ourselves in glory in terms of how we handled that on Wednesday morning.
— Chief of Staff John Kelly

Kelly also offered a detailed timeline, from his point of view, on the events leading up to Porter's exit.

  • Kelly explained that he had only heard of allegations of emotional abuse against Porter when he accepted his resignation and issued a statement praising Porter's professionalism on Tuesday, Feb 6. At that point, Kelly said Porter had denied the claims, calling them "absolutely untrue."
  • "The mix-up came the next day," Kelly said, adding that the photo of Porter's ex-wife with a black eye surfaced on Wednesday, Feb. 7.
  • Kelly also backed up FBI Director Christopher Wray's statement that the Bureau had sent over their report on Porter to the White House security office in March 2017.
"That information was, in the security office’s perspective, only partial information still coming in," Kelly said. "When that got looked at, I do not know. But Chris Wray was right, and it was a shock for me certainly. Because I thought the information that came over was in November."

Take note: Rob Porter's version of events contradicts Kelly's timeline. "The man we all knew, it was an absolute shock," Kelly said of Porter. "His religion, his focus on work, etc. It was just a shock to us all."

  • Kelly added that he had never contemplated resigning in the wake of the messy Porter fallout: “I have absolutely nothing to even consider resigning over.”

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Acting Navy head apologizes for calling fired captain "stupid"

Acting Secretary of the Navy Thomas Modly testifies on Capitol Hill in December. Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

Acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly apologized Monday for calling Capt. Brett Crozier, the ousted commander of the USS Theodore Roosevelt, "too naïve or too stupid" over his letter pleading for help following a coronavirus outbreak onboard.

The big picture: His apology came after President Trump told a news briefing earlier Monday he would "get involved" following a leak of Modly's remarks to the ship's crew on Crozier, who has since been diagnosed with coronavirus, which were obtained by CNN.

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Former Vatican treasurer George Pell's sexual abuse convictions overturned

Cardinal George Pell at the County Court in Melbourne, Australia, in 2019. Photo: Michael Dodge/Getty Images

George Pell, the former Vatican treasurer, has won his appeal and had his child sexual abuse convictions overturned by Australia's High Court.

Why it matters: The cardinal became last year the highest-ranking Catholic Church official to go to trial and be convicted for sex abuse. But the High Court's ruling means he can be immediately released from prison, where he was serving a six-year sentence.

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