Sign up for our daily briefing

Make your busy days simpler with Axios AM/PM. Catch up on what's new and why it matters in just 5 minutes.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on the day's biggest business stories

Subscribe to Axios Closer for insights into the day’s business news and trends and why they matter

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Stay on top of the latest market trends

Subscribe to Axios Markets for the latest market trends and economic insights. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sports news worthy of your time

Binge on the stats and stories that drive the sports world with Axios Sports. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Tech news worthy of your time

Get our smart take on technology from the Valley and D.C. with Axios Login. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Get the inside stories

Get an insider's guide to the new White House with Axios Sneak Peek. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Axios on your phone

Get breaking news and scoops on the go with the Axios app.

Download for free.

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Denver news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Denver

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Des Moines news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Des Moines

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Twin Cities news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Twin Cities

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Tampa Bay news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Tampa Bay

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Charlotte news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Charlotte

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sign up for Axios NW Arkansas

Stay up-to-date on the most important and interesting stories affecting NW Arkansas, authored by local reporters

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Chief of Staff John Kelly (left) and former White House Staff Secretary Rob Porter. Photo: Jabin Botsford / The Washington Post via Getty Images

White House Staff Secretary Rob Porter is telling associates that some senior White House officials strongly encouraged him to "stay and fight," and claims he "never misrepresented anything" to Chief of Staff John Kelly.

Why it matters: This White House has a culture problem, starting at the top. The natural instinct is to defend/deny and show scant, if any, concern for the women alleging misconduct and harm. And when the going gets tough internally, the other natural instinct is to blame everyone but yourself. 

  • Porter has said nothing publicly since his departure from the White House on Thursday, following accounts of domestic violence from his two ex-wives.
  • But a coordinated defense is forming for Kelly on how he handled the matter, and Porter is telling a different story.
  • The backdrop: The White House has not provided a definitive timeline of Porter's departure, and leaks and statements have conflicted.

A member of Congress who has discussed the matter directly with General Kelly and President Trump tells Axios that Porter lied to the chief about what would be in the Daily Mail story.

According to the member of Congress, giving the most detailed Kelly version of events so far:

  • In Kelly’s telling, Porter misrepresented to him that the Daily Mail story would be about a messy marriage and divorce, with allegations of verbal and emotional abuse.
  • Kelly specifically asked Porter about physical abuse of both ex-wives and girlfriends, and Porter denied that.
  • Upon Porter’s denials, Kelly allowed the White House press team to write a statement giving a wholehearted endorsement of Porter as a man of great integrity. (This was Kelly’s initial statement.)
  • Kelly is telling associates that only when the Daily Mail story published online on Tuesday night did he learn the real story.
  • Kelly says he immediately took action: he confronted Porter, told him he had to resign, then called President Trump to inform him of his decision. This is what Kelly means when he tells colleagues he acted quickly and settled the matter within 40 minutes.

On Wednesday, the day that The Intercept would later publish a photo of Porter's first wife with a black eye, Porter arrived at the White House and tried to either rescind his resignation or delay its effective date, according to the account by the member of Congress.

  • When Kelly learned of the indecision, he settled the matter: The general said Porter needed to leave the White House immediately — no further questions or debate. 
  • The member of Congress said: "President Trump didn’t know any of this till the news broke, nor should he have been expected to know. Presidents don’t get involved in background checks."
  • More on the FBI angle: Kelly is also telling associates that the first he learned of Porter’s issues with his background check was in November.
  • But Kelly contends he didn’t learn about the specific allegations of the violent attacks until the Daily Mail story published. “He learned that Rob had ex-wife issues and was in fact surprised to know Rob had ex-wives at all,” the member of Congress told Swan.
  • The member added: "As Kelly did with other staff with interim clearances, he urged the FBI to resolve quickly. This was appropriate; background checks aren’t ongoing investigations in which the FBI reports all allegations immediately.  They report final adjudications. This context isn’t adequately explained in most reporting.”

The big picture: Kelly has a credibility crisis with the news media and some White House staff because the West Wing gave reporters a contradictory official version of events in real time.

  • Asked by CNN's Jake Tapper on "State of the Union" if Kelly's job is in jeopardy, White House counselor Kellyanne Conway said: "No."
  • Conway said Trump told her: "Please tell Jake that I have full faith in Chief of Staff John Kelly."

According to the version Porter is providing associates, he told Kelly on Tuesday that a Daily Mail story was coming, and "indicated that based on the questions the reporter was asking, it would be bad." Here is Porter's version:

  • Porter told Kelly, as he had before, that he'd "had troubled marriages but that the more outrageous allegations of physical abuse that might be suggested were untrue."
  • Porter "never misrepresented anything" to Kelly.
  • Porter offered to resign on Tuesday after the first story was published, but some senior White House officials urged him to "stay and fight."
  • On Wednesday, Kelly told Porter it was unlikely he would ultimately get a permanent security clearance, given the accusations.
  • Porter told Kelly he "did not want to be a distraction or be problematic for the White House."
  • Porter again offered his resignation, which was accepted.
  • In a brief conversation with Kelly later in the day, Porter indicated that he "was committed to ensure a smooth transition and was prepared to leave immediately or stay for a period of days or weeks, whatever Kelly and the President preferred."
  • Porter "learned later that evening from news reports, not from Kelly or anyone at the White House," that Thursday would be his last day.

Get more stories like this by signing up for our daily morning newsletter, Axios AM. 

Not a valid email format.
Not a valid email format.
Server error. Please try a different email.
Not a valid email format.
Not a valid email format.
Server error. Please try a different email.
Not a valid email format.
Not a valid email format.
Server error. Please try a different email.
Not a valid email format.
Not a valid email format.
Server error. Please try a different email.
Not a valid email format.
Not a valid email format.
Server error. Please try a different email.

Go deeper

Biden to meet with U.S. financial regulators on Monday

Photo: Drew Angerer via Getty Images

President Biden will meet with financial regulators on Monday.

Driving the news: "The meeting will cover regulatory priorities including climate-related financial risk and agency actions to promote financial inclusion and to responsibly increase access to credit," said press secretary Jen Psaki, according to a press pool report.

Updated 3 hours ago - Economy & Business

The next worker fight: Time off for Juneteenth

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Who gets paid time off to celebrate Juneteenth in the years to come will be uneven and complicated, if history is any guide.

Why it matters: Corporate America hasn't grappled with a new federal holiday since Martin Luther King Jr. Day was authorized almost 40 years ago. How they responded took years to evolve.

You’ve caught up. Now what?

Sign up for Mike Allen’s daily Axios AM and PM newsletters to get smarter, faster on the news that matters.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!