White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders has apparently had it with trying to explain what the White House did about Rob Porter and wants Chief of Staff John Kelly to come to the briefing room podium and do it himself.
That makes sense. This thing has gone on incredibly long. A smart White House would have made this a two-day story, but it’s dragged on for nine.
According to Politico:
Nine days into the Rob Porter scandal, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders is pushing for senior officials who made the decisions surrounding the former White House staff secretary’s security clearance to take over the task of explaining—and defending—those decisions to the public.
Since Tuesday, when FBI director Chris Wray in testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee contradicted her account of how Porter’s background check was handled, Sanders has moved to have White House counsel Don McGahn or chief of staff John Kelly brief the press directly, according to a person close to the White House.
The issue remained unresolved at the time Wednesday’s briefing was canceled due to a school shooting in Florida that left 17 dead, according to the person.
“I think the president is going to side with her,” this person said. “I think the president is going to want them to clear it up.”
A senior administration official said later Wednesday that Kelly had been set to take the podium until the decision was made to cancel it.
The White House denied there was any plan for Kelly to brief reporters Wednesday. Sanders did not respond to a request for comment.
There apparently was not a serious meeting where ruthless decisions were made to protect the president and address a situation that involved credible allegations of spousal abuse.
It’s clear, for one, that Kelly should have directed Communications Director Hope Hicks to recuse herself from the deliberations, since she is romantically involved with Porter. She cannot possibly make unbiased decisions about Porter in such a situation. And everyone should have gotten their story straight – like, the truthful one – before any statements were made.
The president is correct that people’s lives can be too quickly ruined over unproven allegations. But in this case, involving charges by two ex-wives and sympathy for them on the part of a former girlfriend, there was enough prima facie evidence to take action to remove Porter from the White House.