Trump frustrated with Hope Hicks's role in Porter scandal

White House Chief of Staff John Kelly knew before news reports this week that President Donald Trump's staff secretary had issues in his past that could impede him receiving a permanent security clearance, people familiar with the matter said. Porter resigned on Wednesday after his two ex-wives accused him of physical and emotional abuse.

Kelly staunchly defended Porter's integrity in a statement Tuesday before saying late Wednesday, after the photos of Holderness's black eye were published, that he was "shocked by the new allegations" against the staffer, who reports directly to him.

Just as troubling, in my mind, are reports that Chief of Staff John Kelly also knew that Porter was never going to receive a security clearance from the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Porter, a Harvard law school graduate and former Rhodes scholar whose position required a security clearance and close contact with the president, had not yet been approved for a security clearance because the required background check was still ongoing, White House spokesman Raj Shah said. "The truth must be determined, and that was what was going on with Rob Porter". Even when they were confronted with information about Porter that they didn't care to seek out themselves - as they were promoting him up the ranks - they played it off as if it were a minor nuisance.

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"We should not short-circuit an investigation just because allegations are made, unless they could compromise national security or interfere with operations at the White House".

We're long past the point of expecting this administration to express genuine concern for any individual outside, much less a woman who accuses a member of the team of misconduct.

Despite their history, Willoughby said she never wanted him to lose his White House job, because she thought he was good at it, but "this is a effect of his actions".

On Thursday, amid the growing controversy, Shah said Porter had cleaned out his desk that morning and would not be back. Nor did he act in September when he learned that the domestic violence claims were delaying Porter's security clearance, or in November when Porter's former girlfriend contacted him about the allegations, according to these people.

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For there to be "multiple White House aides" who won't clear the bar sounds alarming.

And despite their rocky union, it seems that Porter and Willoughby do have a cordial relationship as he called his ex-twice earlier this week about a blog post she was preparing to share about her abuser.

Willoughby took out a temporary protective order in 2010, which according to the Post said that "reasonable grounds exist to believe that [Porter] has committed family abuse and there is probable danger of a further such offense". She told the publication that Porter punched her while they were on vacation.

Publicly, Porter cast the allegations as part of a "coordinated smear campaign" in a statement Wednesday. "His clearance was never denied, and he resigned", Shah added. He and other Democratic leaders have asked the administration to explain the status of Kushner's clearance given reported omissions on his security clearance questionnaire.

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  • Ryan Wade