The stupidity of the White House staff

From The Wall Street Journal:

White House Offers Regrets About Handling of Rob Porter Allegations

‘We all could have done better,’ dealing with the domestic-abuse accusations, spokesman says

By Michael C. Bender and Peter Nicholas | Updated February 8, 2018 | 10:39 p.m. ET

WASHINGTON—The White House said Thursday it could have better handled the domestic-abuse allegations that led to the resignation of staff secretary Rob Porter, as the president’s chief of staff faced mounting questions about how he dealt with the accusations.

“I think it’s fair to say that…we all could have done better over the few hours or last few days in dealing with this situation,” said White House deputy press secretary Raj Shah, referring to the administration’s handling of the allegations involving Mr. Porter.

Scrutiny focused on chief of staff John Kelly, who worked closely with Mr. Porter and was aware of abuse allegations, according to White House officials. Mr. Shah said Thursday that Mr. Kelly became “fully aware” of the allegations Wednesday.

When accusations from both of Mr. Porter’s ex-wives were first published​ on Tuesday, Mr. Kelly offered a full-throated defense of Mr. Porter, who had become one of Mr. Kelly’s most trusted aides in an increasingly small circle of West Wing staff. Mr. Kelly then issued a second statement Wednesday night saying he was “shocked” as more details of the allegations emerged.

One White House official said that Mr. Kelly has known about allegations against Mr. Porter for months. Mr. Shah said that Mr. Kelly didn’t know the extent of the allegations until Wednesday, when photos of Colbie Holderness, Mr. Porter’s first wife, were published showing a black eye that she said she sustained during a vacation with Mr. Porter in Italy.

Mr. Porter’s second wife, Jennie Willoughby, received a temporary emergency protective order in Virginia in ​2010.

There’s more at the original, but what I have quoted is more than enough to demonstrate the utter stupidity and tone-deafness of the Trump White House. After Harvey Weinstein and Al Franken and Roy Moore, you do not have to be a super-genius to know and understand: any allegations of sexual abuse or domestic violence must be taken seriously, and acted upon immediately. These are things on which you do not get a pass, not today, not anymore.

CNN’s New Day program, with Alisyn Camerota and the odious Chris Cuomo, just spent several minutes on the Rob Porter story, showing a clip of Mr Porter’s second wife, Jennifer Willoughby:

Ex-wife who accused Rob Porter of abuse says she lived in ‘constant terror’

  • Jennifer Willoughby, an ex-wife of the former White House staff secretary Rob Porter, described what she said was “systematic” abuse she suffered during their marriage.

  • She said she lived in a “low-grade, constant terror” with Porter.

  • Willoughby’s story gained worldwide attention along with that of Porter’s first wife, Colbie Holderness, who said Porter gave her a black eye.

  • Porter was fired this week.

Bryan Logan | February 9, 2018

Jennifer Willoughby: CNN Screenshot. Click to enlarge.

Jennifer Willoughby: CNN Screenshot. Click to enlarge.

Jennifer Willoughby, one of the two women who leveled accusations of domestic and emotional abuse against the former White House staff secretary Rob Porter, says she lived in a state of “low-grade, constant terror” with him.

That terror stemmed from “not knowing what I might do to set something off,” Willoughby said during a CNN interview that aired Thursday night. She said Porter engaged in a “systematic tearing down” of her character during their marriage.

Those accounts from Willoughby and Porter’s first wife, Colbie Holderness, amplified the scrutiny around Porter this week, as he became the Trump administration’s latest casualty. He strongly denied the allegations. He was terminated on Thursday.

During her interview, Willoughby at points offered measured praise for Porter, who she called “intelligent, kind, chivalrous, caring, and professional.” But the other side of that, she said, is a man who is “deeply troubled, and angry, and violent.”

When CNN host Anderson Cooper openly wondered whether Porter’s colleagues in the White House had any suspicions about him, Willoughby said it was “reserved for the intimate and most vulnerable moments in his life.”

Miss Willoughby continued to state that her ex-husband had contacted her, notified her that the stories were about become public, and urged her to downplay the allegations. Most damning of all, she said that if Mr Porter hasn’t yet abused White House Communications Director Hope Hicks, with whom he has been spotted in what appears to be a romantic relationship, eventually “he will.” Miss Hicks is said to have helped draft the statement by Mr Kelly, in which he said, “Rob Porter is a man of true integrity and honor, and I can’t say enough good things about him.”

This stupidity is breathtaking. If Miss Hicks has been dating Mr Porter, any advice she has given either Mr Kelly or the President concerning him should have been immediately discounted as personally biased.

Let me be clear about this: there is no such thing as due process in politics! If an accusation along these lines is credibly made — and the photos of Mr Porter’s first wife, Colbie Holderness, sporting a black eye, and the restraining order against him granted to Miss Willoughby automatically make the allegations credible — an immediate suspension pending an investigation is mandatory. Anything else is horribly politically damaging, and hurts the President in achieving his goals.

Mr Porter is a brilliant man, a graduate of Harvard and Harvard Law School, as well as a Rhodes Scholar. He is, by all accounts, handsome and personable, and was very good at his job. But none of that matters: if he was a wife beater, then no, no one should ever hire him.1 John Kelly ought to know that, Donald Trump ought to know that, and Hope Hicks ought to know that.

  1. Full disclosure: I once hired a man who had been convicted of domestic abuse to work as a concrete mixer driver. He was on parole at the time, and had to check in with his probation officer daily. If a project was going to keep him away from his home — he was wearing an ankle monitor — beyond 6:00 PM, I had to call his probation officer and notify him. He was paying his debt to society at that point, so I had no reservations in hiring him. Perhaps Mr Porter can redeem himself, eventually, but I cannot see him ever being placed in a position of responsibility.


  1. If the main source for this is cnn, they’ll probably be saying he engages in cannibalism and child slavery. If someone dropped an atom bomb on cnn HQ, they’d be doing the world a big favor. They’re not just fake news, they’re junk news. This is a “Network” that, in 20 years, never brought up accusations of assault and rape against Bill Clinton, so they don’t have much credibility now.

    • It wasn’t CNN which broke the story, but the Daily Mail of London. They had the photo of Mr Porter’s first wife with the black eye, and dug up the restraining order his second wife had filed against him. Those things are hard evidence; this isn’t a wholly unsupported he said/she said story. That’s enough for an immediate suspension, pending a full investigation.

      President Trump said earlier today that Mr Porter was very good at his job. That’s all well and good, but he was denied a security clearance due to something. There have to be other people out there who could do just as good a job as Mr Porter without having beaten up their wives in the past.

      • In truth, I have not followed this story AT ALL, for the same reason I don’t read The NY Times or any other type of Fake News. For example, in the 2nd debate of 2016, CNN (led by old Sperm Lips himself, Anderson Cooper) never mentioned the Clinton rape and sexual assault issues, Trump had to do that himself. And when Hillary Rotten accused the women of being liars, Anderson Pooper had no follow up at all and did exactly nothing.

  2. I think you’re being too harsh on Mr. Porter. These days when womyn are the absolute, unequivocal, unarguable total equal to men and where the “Womyn”s Movement” has such broad (pun intended) support by these very Harvard elites I would think Mrs. Porter held herself back in order not to harm her hubby. If she incurred some black and blue spots and a black eye in the scuffle (where according to every Hollywood movie made in the last 20 years the little womyn beats the sh!t out of the big burly man) then it must be her own fault as she is womyn hear her roar and the equal or better of every man on earth. Ask Angelina Jolie and Scarlett Johansson.

    And to penalize Mr. Porter by condemning him to the point where “then no, no one should ever hire him” is the Hester Prynne never ending style punishment. This poor, over educated Harvard man should never, ever be able to work again and turned into a street person because of this? I think not. Have we learned nothing as a society? Have we no shame? How can we hold a poor weak man at fault for defending himself from the much, much more powerful womyn?

    Womyn have demanded and have finally attained equality with men. They cannot be both a victim and an equal of men.

  3. There is nothing that I have seen that should preclude him from the job. He is not out on bail or similar. Get a grip on reality. Allegations are just that and anybody can allege anything. Tell the press to F off and get back to the administration of the Republic. Worries about tone deafness is the same as bowing to the far left. Ruin a life over allegations? That should be a crime.

    • This is not a he said/she said case: there is photographic evidence of the black eye he inflicted on his first wife, and the restraining order granted to his second.

      As I stated in the original, the existing restraining order should have been sufficient to have had the White House hire someone else, and there is no due process in politics. Having to defend Mr Porter and keep him on would have damaged the Trump Administration.

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