White House Chief of Staff General John Kelly said he would not resign his position in the White House, clarifying the timeline of former Staff Secretary Rob Porter’s departure from the administration.
Kelly said he became aware of White House staffers working with interim security clearances in September, adding he was uncomfortable with the situation and asked for help from the FBI to help speed up the process.
Kelly spoke at the White House with reporters after President Donald Trump traveled to Rev. Billy Graham’s funeral.
He said he learned about problems with Porter’s clearance and allegations of abuse from one of his ex-wives on
February 6, 2018, when the report was featured in the Daily Mail. Despite initial statements of support from the White House, Kelly said that Porter resigned on Tuesday although he denied the allegations.
The following day, Kelly said, Porter’s other wife alleged further allegations of abuse. Following the second report, Kelly stated, he made sure that Porter was resigning.
“We didn’t cover ourselves in glory in terms of how we handled that on Wednesday morning; it was confusing,” Kelly acknowledged.
He defended Porter’s behavior in the White House, suggesting that it came as a shock to the White House staff.
“We worked with him closely. He conducted himself as the ultimate gentleman. I never saw him mad or abusive in any way,” Kelly said.
Kelly said that he and White House counsel Don McGahn were not aware of the FBI flags about Porter’s security clearance until after. He said he learned afterward that information from the FBI was sent to the White House beginning in March, in July, in November, and finally in February, but that the White House staff office had still not reached conclusions about Porters status in the White House.
“The man we all knew, it was an absolute shock. His religion, his focus on work, etc. It was just a shock to us all,” Kelly said about Porter.