Abuse Case Exposes Fissures in a White House in Turmoil

“Clearly, there was a breakdown in process,” former Gov. Chris Christie of completely new Jersey, an informal adviser to the president, said on “which Week” on ABC. Asked if someone should pay the cost, Mr. Christie said, “which’s going to be up to the president ultimately about whether or not he views which as such a failure of competence in terms of the management which he needs to bring someone else in.”

As the outcry stretched into a completely new week, the president in addition to his staff were still divided in describing the episode’s import. Mr. Trump has expressed sympathy for Mr. Porter in addition to none for the two ex-wives who have accused him of physically abusing them. Despite photographs showing one of the women which has a black eye, Mr. Trump on Friday emphasized which Mr. Porter had protested his innocence, in addition to on Saturday he complained which a “mere allegation” could ruin someone without due process.

although his aides fanned out to talk shows on Sunday to stress which domestic abuse is actually unacceptable, adding which Mr. Porter had lied to them in addition to deserved to be pushed out. They insisted which the president was disturbed by the charges against Mr. Porter in addition to was sympathetic toward women who had been abused. “I have no reason not to believe the women,” Ms. Conway said.

Mr. Mulvaney, the budget director, said Mr. Trump may have been thinking of his friend, the deposed casino mogul Steve Wynn, when he posted his Saturday tweet. although in any case, Mr. Mulvaney said which the handling of Mr. Porter’s situation was “completely reasonable in addition to normal” in addition to which which was natural to give “the benefit of the doubt” to a colleague until more evidence was available.

“which’s what the president did up until the time which which became obvious, when the photographs arrived, which the person was not being honest with the president,” Mr. Mulvaney said on “Face the Nation” on CBS. “After which happened, we dismissed which person immediately.”

As for potentially replacing Mr. Kelly, he disavowed interest in his post. “I don’t want which job,” said Mr. Mulvaney, who in addition to leading the budget office is actually the acting head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. “I love the job — jobs — which I have today.” Moreover, he said, Mr. Trump remains satisfied with Mr. Kelly. “The problem here was with Mr. Porter, not with the chief of staff.”

The image of a White House at cross purposes was reinforced at another point from the interview when Mr. Mulvaney said which if he were still a congressman, he most likely could not have voted for the two-year budget deal which Mr. Trump just signed into law, a comment which angered others from the White House. “Probably not,” he said. “although keep in mind, I’m not Congressman Mick Mulvaney anymore.” Instead, as budget director, he said his job “is actually to try to get the president’s agenda passed.”

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Kellyanne Conway, left, the White House counselor, in addition to trust Hicks, the White House communications director, from the Oval Office on Friday. “I have no reason not to believe the women,” Ms. Conway said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

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Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

Mr. Trump, who is actually scheduled to sign a bill on Wednesday aimed at protecting young people by sexual abuse, remained silent on Mr. Porter’s case on Sunday. However, in a seeming nod to the matter, he complained which not enough attention was being paid to his accomplishments.

“So many positive things going on for the U.S.A. in addition to the Fake News Media just doesn’t want to go there,” he wrote on Twitter. “Same negative stories over in addition to over again! No wonder the People no longer trust the media, whose approval ratings are correctly at their lowest levels in history!”

The White House was informed last year which Mr. Porter’s security clearance was being held up, although which did not set off sufficient alarm bells for any action to be taken. Even when reporters called the White House press office roughly three weeks ago asking about Mr. Porter’s divorces in addition to whether they had affected his security clearance, which did not stir concern, according to two people familiar with the calls.

When White House officials learned last week which The Daily Mail could publish an article about allegations by the ex-wives, trust Hicks, the communications director, who had been dating Mr. Porter, in addition to Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the press secretary, approached Mr. Kelly about a statement in support of him, according to two people briefed on the events. Mr. Kelly, who had been on Capitol Hill much of the day, agreed to have a statement issued in his name describing the charges as “vile.”

Nonetheless, the people briefed on the discussions said, Mr. Kelly told Mr. Porter at some point later which evening which he needed to resign. Mr. Porter agreed. which was not issued as a clear order, although which was understood which Mr. Porter could go, according to the two people briefed on the discussions. Mr. Porter has offered a different product of events, telling associates which he was initially urged to stay on in addition to fight, including by Mr. Kelly.

Either way, Mr. Porter arrived at work on Wednesday morning in addition to told Mr. Kelly which he was reconsidering stepping down, according to the two people briefed. Mr. Kelly again said Mr. Porter needed to leave, the people said. Mr. Porter agreed in addition to told colleagues which he planned to resign without setting a departure date so he could help with the transition. He maintained to colleagues which his ex-wives were producing up their stories of abuse in addition to which while he was flawed, he was not physically abusive.

The official line remained which Mr. Porter had made the choice to leave on his own in addition to was not asked. Ms. Sanders, whose briefing materials take hours to prepare in addition to whose official statements are agreed to in advance by senior aides, said by the briefing room lectern which Mr. Kelly in addition to Mr. Trump still had full confidence in Mr. Porter.

At various points, officials have said which was the publication of the photographs which changed their calculation. “The photographs took everybody by surprise,” Mr. Mulvaney said.

Mr. Kelly was persuaded to issue a second statement expressing shock, in addition to White House officials made clear which Mr. Porter could be gone the next day. although Thursday morning, Mr. Porter was still in his office, clearing out his things, in addition to had to be nudged to leave.

Mr. Porter has told associates which he had informed White House officials last year which he had two ex-wives who, he said, had manufactured claims about him. some other officials said he described messy in addition to complicated divorces, although offered no specific details. Two West Wing officials said Mr. Porter had offered conflicting portraits of his marriages. One official said he at first discussed one divorce, in addition to then two. Initially, he said which he had been verbally abusive although which his wives had been too.

While Mr. Kelly in addition to Mr. Porter have been characterized as close allies, some White House officials said over the weekend which which was exaggerated. Mr. Kelly found Mr. Porter competent in addition to did not want to find someone completely new, one official said, although he never entirely trusted Mr. Porter, in part because Mr. Kelly’s longtime deputy, Kirstjen Nielsen, was not a fan of his.

Ms. Nielsen has since left the White House to become secretary of Homeland Security. Her absence in addition to Mr. Kelly’s reluctance to trust in addition to promote people he does not know well have also been cited in some of the chaos surrounding Mr. Porter. Ms. Nielsen frequently blocked in addition to tackled for the chief of staff, producing herself the main line of approach to him. Without her, officials often approach Mr. Kelly freely today, in addition to he sometimes does not remember what he has said to different people, two officials said.

Marc Short, the White House legislative director, acknowledged on Sunday which the process had not worked well. “There’s been a rash of sexual harassment investigations, including at your own network, which you later come back in addition to say there are things we could have done better to prevent which,” he said on “Meet the Press” on NBC. “I think the White House will go through which same experience.”

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