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The Rob Porter Coverup Is More Insidious Than Previously Believed

By Dustin Rowles | Politics | February 13, 2018 |

By Dustin Rowles | Politics | February 13, 2018 |


White House Counsel Don McGahn had known for nearly a year about Rob Porter’s abuse allegations. The FBI had flagged them and indicated that the allegations would prevent him from receiving full security clearance. McGahn told the FBI to continue with a full investigation and, I guess, he’d figure it out once that investigation was finished. In the meantime, Porter — who handles some of the most top-secret classified information in the White House — was given interim security clearance.

We also know that John Kelly knew for months about the abuse allegations. Kelly claims that he didn’t know the extent of those allegations until the Daily Mail article came out. Kelly says that Porter was dismissed within 40 minutes of him learning about the article. Sarah Sanders says that it was 24 hours. In the meantime, it seems clear that Kelly knew of the allegations when he vouched for Porter, calling him a man of honor and integrity. According to many — including Porter himself, I believe — Kelly urged Porter to stay and fight the allegations.

That last point seems to have been confirmed by Politico, which is reporting that after the Daily Mail article was published with the picture of Porter’s ex-wife with a black eye, the White House arranged an off-the-record meeting between reporters from The Washington Post, The NYTimes, Axious and The Wall Street Journal and Rob Porter himself, who was due to offer his own defense, presumably in an effort to “stay and fight.”

Kelly seemed determined to keep Porter on, regardless of the domestic abuse allegations in part because — like every other goddamn Republican in the White House — Kelly doesn’t care about women, and in part because Kelly, increasingly, has no allies in the White House. Kelly is not a man with a reluctant trigger finger when it comes to firing folks (ask Anthony Scaramucci or Omarosa Manigault. But Kelly had lost his number two, Kirstjen Nielsen, who had taken his old job at the Department of Homeland Security, and he was unable to find a suitable replacement (Texas Congressman Michael McCaul didn’t work out, and Jim Carroll, who was unofficially filling that role, was booted last Friday).

Kelly has no friends left in the White House. Trump has no friends left in the White House. And here we are with John Kelly and Donald Trump — who don’t seem to care that much for one another — worker together, alone.

Reminder: Donald Trump is fucking miserable, and so is John Kelly. It’s the little things we can take solace in.

In the meantime, this is all just another reminder that Jared Kushner still doesn’t have a permanent security clearance, either, and no final decision has been made on whether he will ever receive it. He, too, is handling highly classified materials (in fact, he’s reading what the President will not) on an interim security basis, which is all the more ironic because HER EMAILS.

Elsewhere, while 66 percent of American public still trusts the FBI more than it trusts Trump (and even 43 percent of Republicans believe the FBI is only doing its job), the Republicans continue to try and make hay out of nothing. They tried to discredit the FBI with the Nunes memo; with the Strzok texts; they tried to claim there was a secret society; Trump dropped a bombshell that was nothing last week; and now they are going after a Susan Rice email.

Here’s an email Susan Rice sent herself on the last day in office. Read it, and try and tell me what’s wrong with it?

Chuck Grassley and Lindsey Graham have questions about why Rice would send herself this memo, and I have questions about why the Republicans want to highlight this email. It says that Obama asked Comey and Co. to ensure that they continue to work “by the book,” but to be wary about sharing information with the Trump team about Russia, and for obvious reason (see, e.g., Michael Flynn). The radical right believes this is more evidence of a conspiracy. Anyone else who reads this email believes that it is Susan Rice ensuring that their concerns about Trump’s relationship with Russia are memorialized.

Meanwhile, I want to highlight two more things. I don’t really care what Omarosa Manigault has to say about anything, except as much as it might inflame Trump. On “Celebrity Big Brother,” which was obviously Omarosa’s first stop after getting fired from the White House, Omarosa has claimed that she wouldn’t vote for Trump again “in a million years,” but also suggests that Pence is even worse than Trump. From WashPo, which is reporting on “Celebrity Big Brother” as part of its political coverage, which is where we are now:

“As bad as y’all think Trump is, you would be worried about Pence,” she said. “So everybody that’s wishing for impeachment might want to reconsider their lives. We would be begging for days of Trump back if Pence became president.”

“He’s extreme,” Omarosa said of the vice president. “I’m Christian. I love Jesus. But he thinks Jesus tells him to say things. I’m like, ‘Jesus ain’t saying that.’ “

Finally, this woman — Lissa Lucas — is absolutely amazing, and I hope she succeeds in her effort to win a West Virginia seat.

Dustin is the founder and co-owner of Pajiba. You may email him here, follow him on Twitter, or listen to his weekly TV podcast, Podjiba.