White House officials were aware of the allegations of domestic abuse against staffer Rob Porter for many months, reports reveal.
Porter was accused of physical, mental and emotional abuse by his ex-wives in a Daily Mail article released this week. Porter denied the allegations and the White House—particularly Chief of Staff John Kelly—defended Porter after the allegations initially went public.
Porter resigned on Wednesday, though he still maintains his innocence.
CNN reports that it was widely known among Trump’s senior aides last fall that Porter was struggling to obtain security clearance a year into the administration, likely because of his ex-wives’ accusations.
According to Vanity Fair, Kelly may not have been aware of the exact details of the abuse, however, Porter continued to rise among the ranks despite his lack of security clearance:
“West Wing staffers continue to wonder why Kelly would keep the Porter allegations from the president, and why he defended Porter so aggressively when presented with allegations by the Mail. Porter’s history with women had been known to Kelly for months, a source familiar with the matter said. (Porter has been working with a temporary security clearance because the allegations surfaced in an F.B.I. background interview.) According to a source, Kelly at first pushed back when White House officials wanted him to issue a second statement walking back his initial strong defense of [Porter]. “
The White House declined to comment on Wednesday when asked about Kelly’s knowledge of the allegations against Porter.
“There is no place for domestic violence in our society,” Kelly eventually said in a statement. “I stand by my previous comments of the Rob Porter that I have come to know since becoming Chief of Staff, and believe every individual deserves the right to defend their reputation. I accepted his resignation earlier today and will ensure a swift and orderly transition.”