- Chief of staff John Kelly reportedly expressed a willingness to resign over the Rob Porter scandal.
- Porter resigned Wednesday after news outlets published spousal abuse allegations from both of his ex-wives.
- Kelly initially defended Porter, then said he was “shocked” by the new allegations.
Rumors have begun swirling around the fate of John Kelly, the White House chief of staff, who has found himself at the center of a firestorm in recent days amid allegations that a top Trump administration staffer had abused his ex-wives.
Kelly expressed to Trump on Friday that he was willing to resign over the ordeal, sources close to Trump told ABC News. The New York Times also reported that Kelly told West Wing officials that he was willing to resign.
It’s unclear whether Trump will ask for his resignation. Sources familiar with the situation told ABC they didn’t believe Kelly’s departure was imminent.
Rob Porter, the former White House staff secretary, resigned on Wednesday after news outlets published his ex-wives’ allegations. But the scandal continued to build after news surfaced that Kelly and others in the White House knew for months about the accusations – and built up Porter’s role within the West Wing anyway.
White House deputy press secretary Hogan Gidley told CNN that Kelly has not offered his resignation.
But Trump is reportedly furious with Kelly over his handling of the issue. Kelly issued a statement after the allegations were first published by the Daily Mail on Tuesday, vehemently praising Porter as a “man of true integrity and honor.”
He later issued a second statement after photos surfaced showing a black eye Porter allegedly gave one of his ex-wives.
“I was shocked by the new allegations released today against Rob Porter,” Kelly said. “There is no place for domestic violence in our society.”
Kelly is on shaky ground
- Jonathan Ernst/Reuters
Trump was so infuriated by the ordeal he even phoned Reince Priebus, the previous chief of staff who was ousted after he also attracted Trump’s ire, to vent about Kelly, The New York Times reported.
Regardless, Trump is actively considering who might replace Kelly as chief of staff. He has floated names like Mick Mulvaney, the current Office of Management and Budget director, as well as top economic adviser Gary Cohn, Rep. Mark Meadows of North Carolina, and Rep. Kevin McCarthy of California, The New York Times and ABC News reported.
Kelly was already on shaky ground in recent days and weeks, after he made headlines over controversial comments about immigrants and border security.
In one instance, he suggested that some of the young unauthorized immigrants who had not enrolled in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program were “too lazy to get off their asses.”
Several weeks earlier, Kelly said in a Fox News interview that Trump was not “fully informed” about immigration issues when he promised in his 2016 campaign to build a wall along the US-Mexico border. Kelly also said Trump had since “evolved” on the issue.
The comments were apparently irksome enough to Trump that he tweeted out a contradiction: “The Wall is the Wall, it has never changed or evolved from the first day I conceived of it.”