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White House cover story for abusive former aide completely implodes

The spin keeps changing but the facts remain the same — the White House covered for a domestic abuser.

By Eric Boehlert - February 13, 2018
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Donald Trump,Sarah Huckabee Sanders

The White House’s already-shaky cover story about how the administration quickly moved to get rid of a top aide after he was accused of beating his ex-wives suffered another embarassment on Tuesday, when it was revealed the White House initially tried to have the aide talk his way out of the problem. In a room full of reporters.

In the week since Rob Porter left the White House after the Daily Mail published photographs of his battered ex-wife, the administration has been completely unable and unwilling to explain why Porter kept working for chief of staff John Kelly after Porter failed this FBI security clearance after the ex-wives detailed his history of abuse.

Trump has warmly praised Porter since the scandal broke, while remaining steadfastly mum about the victims. Meanwhile, the jumbled spin from his team has revolved around the idea that the White House cut ties with Porter “40 minutes” after they got the disturbing news last week.

But on Tuesday, Politico reported this rather stunning revelation, which completely destroys the White House’s official timeline [emphasis added]:

In the hours immediately after the Daily Mail published a photograph of Porter’s first ex-wife with a black eye, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders hastily arranged an off-the-record meeting in the West Wing with Porter and four reporters: the New York Times’ Maggie Haberman, the Washington Post’s Josh Dawsey, Axios’ Jonathan Swan, and the Wall Street Journal’s Michael Bender. In that meeting, which hasn’t previously been reported, Porter relayed his version of events and fielded questions from the group.

Rather than immediately fire Porter, the White House sent him into a room with reporters to try to spin his, and their, way out of the story.

Off the record, of course.

Meanwhile, CBS News reported on Tuesday that the FBI completed Porter’s background check long before he resigned.

That seems to indicate that the White House knew Porter was never going to be granted the security clearance that he needed to do his job, and that the White House knew why he was being denied clearance — because he was accused of beating his ex-wives.

So yes, the idea that Trump’s team sprang into action the moment they found out about Porter’s dark past and fired him within “40 minutes” is a complete fabrication. How long will the White House cling to it?


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