- The “Fox & Friends” host Brian Kilmeade has been uncharacteristically hostile toward President Donald Trump over the past two days about the White House’s response to Rob Porter’s resignation as staff secretary last week after allegations of domestic violence.
- Kilmeade told a White House spokesman on Tuesday that he “relied on” the FBI’s background-check system but “got burned.”
- Kilmeade has also chastised Trump for not publicly condemning Porter.
For a show that has often served as one of President Donald Trump’s primary news sources and biggest boosters, “Fox & Friends” has been fiercely critical of the White House’s response to allegations of domestic violence against Rob Porter, who resigned as staff secretary last week.
Brian Kilmeade, one of the hosts, had some harsh words on Tuesday for Raj Shah, a White House deputy press secretary, after Shah defended a background-check investigation that he said Porter had been subject to for months.
“You relied upon it, and you got burned, because you had a two-time accused domestic abuser there at a very sensitive position where perhaps he shouldn’t have been had that been fully exposed,” Kilmeade said. “So what changes now?”
Porter, whose two ex-wives have accused him of physical and emotional abuse, was given an interim security clearance to work in the White House while the FBI was doing a background-check investigation.
In a tense exchange on Monday’s show, Kilmeade pressed Hogan Gidley, another White House deputy press secretary, on Trump’s response to the allegations against Porter.
“So the president is just as outraged as many Americans about the alleged domestic abuse, which looks pretty strong – the evidence – strong against Porter,” Kilmeade said. “Why won’t he say that publicly?”
Gidley responded with what has become a standard talking point from the White House on the issue.
“Well, I don’t know if he’s going to say that publicly or not, and I’ve not spoken with the president about this,” Gidley said. “But I can say we lean on a process here at the White House, and quite frankly, as soon as we found out about this on Tuesday, by Wednesday Rob Porter was gone.
“The president has been very clear that all forms of abuse, all forms of battery against women are deplorable.”
Kilmeade fired back: “But he hasn’t said that.”
A growing scandal
Though Porter was not recognized widely outside the White House, he was an increasingly powerful figure in the West Wing, responsible for controlling all the documents going to Trump’s desk, including classified information.
- Jonathan Ernst/Reuters
John Kelly, the chief of staff – along with others in the White House – has come under fire for his handling of the Porter case. Recent reports have suggested he knew about the allegations against Porter for months before his resignation.
In 2010, Porter’s second wife obtained a protective order – something Kelly was well aware of, a senior member of the administration told Politico.
The official said Kelly had considered pressuring Porter to leave but never did.
On Tuesday, FBI Director Christopher Wray told the Senate Intelligence Committee that the bureau had submitted a partial report on Porter’s background-check investigation in March and after several follow-ups “administratively closed” the case in January.
This timeline appears to contradict the White House, which has said the background-check investigation was ongoing and that officials did not know about the allegations against Porter until recently.
Kelly, who had worked closely with Porter for several months, at first issued a statement calling him “a man of true integrity.”
In a second statement, Kelly said he was shocked by the allegations and condemned domestic violence, though he said he still stood by some of his earlier comments about Porter.