Speculation that Chief of Staff John Kelly is not long for the West Wing has metastasized to such a degree that the White House could no longer afford to address it – especially since somebody (presumably Kelly or one of his allies) has leaked to CNN that Jared and Ivanka also supported Rob Porter’s rise.
And so it was that, during Tuesday’s press briefing, Spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders offered a creative interpretation of FBI Director Christopher Wray’s comments that explained away an apparent contradiction between the story Kelly told the media…by essentially denying there was any discrepancy at all.
What amounted to a media stiff-arm, Huckabee explained that there was an intermediary, the White House Personnel Security Office, which “had not finished their process” by January.
Wray implied during his testimony that the FBI first raised questions about Porter’s history of domestic violence before it had completed its initial investigation as early as March 2017. Wray implied that the FBI repeatedly informed the West Wing of Porter’s red flags and seemed to suggest that it’s difficult to imagine Kelly, who is technically in charge of the personnel office, wasn’t aware.
According to Axios, Sanders said the White House is “looking for ways to take action” against domestic abuse, and “[condemns] domestic violence in every possible way.”
She also insisted that Trump still has confidence in his chief of staff.
Sanders also said Trump would be donating his quarter-four salary to the Department of Transportation, to “rebuild and modernize” US infrastructure – adding a whopping $100,000 to the White House’s $200 billion appropriation for its infrastructure plan.
So it seems Kelly might hang on after all – even if only because cutting him loose would set a precedent that could also force the firing of Jared and Ivanka.
Earlier, Anthony Scaramucci – who was himself axed by Kelly – tweeted that the chief of staff “must resign” and that he “almost certainly knew” about Porter’s sordid history.
Watch the full briefing below: