Update: As I noted below, some Trump stories matter more than others, specifically those where enough headlines can made a difference. That’s exactly the case here, as the firestorm that erupted over domestic abuse allegations against White House secretary Rob Porter has led to his resignation, despite defenses from John Kelly and Sarah Sanders. According to Axios, however, John Kelly did encourage Porter to stay and fight.
Good riddance. Also, there is mounting evidence that John Kelly is a terrible human being.
I mentioned in another thread this morning that I am taking the week off from the Morning Briefings. The Nunes Memo broke me in that “DOES IT EVEN MATTER?” way. I mean: The Chairman of the Intelligence Committee manufactured weeks of hype around a memo designed to undermine the FBI and there was nothing in it. But Donald Trump — who was like, “we caught ‘em red handed, didn’t we?” — and his supporters saw what they wanted to see in it, even if it wasn’t there. I saw a Tweet right after the memo was released that said something along the lines of, “We got em! Hillary, Obama, Bernie, George Soros. It’s all there. They’re going to prison! Lock ‘em up!” And I was just like, “What?! WHAT?! Bernie? Soros?” What memo did you read?”
It doesn’t matter. The Trump people are never going to change their minds. They’re never going to see anything despotic about a military parade. When the stock market goes up, they’ll credit Trump. When it crashes, they’ll blame Democrats. When he calls the Democrats treasonous, they’ll either laugh it off as a joke or actually buy into the idea. And every day, Trump is going to continue to play his little game of politics from his bed with his phone and his Twitter account, and his entire White House is going to continue to defend him, no matter what he says, and the media is going to write about it breathlessly, and the next day, we’ll wake up and the needle will not have moved. I saw yesterday that after the thousands of countless hours the media spent on the Nunes memo, public opinion didn’t shift one iota this way or that.
Anyway, I’m not quitting Trump. I’m just taking a short break from those things that ultimately do not matter, but when I get back to it, I will make an even more concerted effort to find the stories that do matter, like the fact that Democrat Mike Revis won a state House seat in a deeply red district in Missouri that Trump won by 28 points in 2016.
But also, we will still cover stories in the immediate short term that absolutely DO matter, and aside from the politics of this, this story matters a lot, because the White House is defending a domestic abuser right now. They’re protecting a wife beater. We’ve actually seen a lot of positive results when it comes to raising hell about White House cabinet nominees or corrupt staffers. Last week, for instance, the media was able to force out CDC Director Brenda Fitzgerald, when it was discovered that Trump’s leading health official was buying stocks in Big Tobacco while she was in the job. It truly and honestly seems like someone is forced out every other week because of situations like this.
President Trump’s staff secretary Rob Porter — who is apparently dating Hope Hicks — needs to be the next guy forced out. Porter’s second wife, Jennifer Willoughby, accused him in The Daily Mail of years of verbal and physical abuse.
“I can’t remember what triggered it. He lashed out and was really angry and both under his breath and explicitly to me called me a f****ng b***h and f***ing ridiculous. He accused me of not caring about him or not caring about his needs,” Willoughby said.
Willoughby continued saying, “over the course of the years of our marriage, I can think of several times where I was collapsing on the ground in tears and saying, ‘just leave me alone, just stop’ because the anger and the insults were too much.”
Willoughby was forced to take out a protective order against Porter, who once pulled her out of the shower to berate her.
Porter also assaulted his first wife.
Senior White House aide Rob Porter physically assaulted two ex-wives, they tell @theintercept. Full story to come in the morning.— Ryan Grim (@ryangrim) February 7, 2018
His first wife, Colbie Holderness, provided these photos from a vacation they took together in Florence, Italy: pic.twitter.com/tl3TbyGA8Y
But of course, the White House is standing by him. Porter “is a man of true integrity and honor and I can’t say enough good things about him. He is a friend, a confidante and a trusted professional. I am proud to serve alongside him,” said Trump’s Chief of Staff, John Kelly. Sarah Sanders, likewise, defended him as “someone of the highest integrity and exemplary character.”
Men of the highest integrity and exemplary character do not beat their spouses. They do not pull them out of showers and berate them. They do not need protective orders taken out against them. It doesn’t matter that he’s now dating Hope Hicks. Porter needs to go. He has to go. We can’t force those in the White House to be more supportive of women, but we can make keeping Porter on a living hell for the White House, just one more thing they have to contend with, another news cycle lost to their repeated defense of “the very best people.”