Rep. Jackie Speier: John Kelly ‘doesn’t get it’
As the White House scrambles to contain the fallout from domestic violence allegations against former staff secretary Rob Porter, a Democratic congresswoman called Thursday night for chief of staff John Kelly to lose his job amid growing questions about what he knew and when.
Asked on CNN’s “Erin Burnett OutFront” if Kelly should keep his job, Democratic Rep. Jackie Speier said “Absolutely not. Absolutely not.”
“He doesn’t get it,” Speier continued. “He really doesn’t get it.”
Kelly initially praised Porter in a statement on Tuesday, saying “Rob 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.”
In a follow-up statement, Kelly said, “There is no place for domestic violence in our society. I stand by my previous comments of the Rob Porter that I have come to know since becoming chief of staff, and believe every individual deserves the right to defend their reputation.”
During Thursday’s press briefing, White House spokesman Raj Shah said Kelly was not “fully aware” of the allegations against Porter until Wednesday, and that President Donald Trump was also not aware that Porter was serving without a permanent security clearance. Speier, however, said she doesn’t think the White House is telling the truth.
“I believe that they knew full well,” she said. “They were informed by one of his wives last year. They’ve known about this for at least a year. And frankly, what we have here is everyone thought they were going to be able to weather the storm until photographs of one of his wives with a black eye came out. I really wonder when are we going to be willing to believe women without a photograph or an audiotape?”
Sources familiar with the matter told CNN that by early fall it was widely known among Trump’s top aides — including Kelly — that Porter was facing troubles in obtaining his security clearance and that his two ex-wives claimed he had abused them.