Kelly told staff Friday to say he had decided to fire Porter within 40 minutes of learning allegations Porter abused two ex-wives were credible. Some staffers who were at the meeting left feeling that Kelly had effectively asked them to lie on his behalf.
.. It is extremely difficult to square that statement with everything we know. Kelly issued an initial statement Tuesday featuring effusive praise for Porter
.. More important, though, that this leaked out so quickly suggests Kelly has lost the confidence of his staff.
.. White House aides probably could have tried to sell the version of events Kelly told them to — it hinges upon how you define “credible,” after all, and is refuted only by anonymously sourced reporting at this point — but they are apparently unwilling to front for him and make themselves vulnerable professionally.
.. Kelly’s luster has slowly eroded during his roughly six months as Trump’s top staffer — and some White House aides worry it may be acutely painful, considering he takes personal pride in his honor as a lifelong public servant. . . .
The perception of Kelly as above politics has been critical to his success in the West Wing. Publicly, he has come to Trump’s aid at moments of crisis, while privately he has been used to kill damaging news stories, or put a positive spin on them.
But the irony for Kelly may be that the credibility that makes him a singular asset in this White House may have been irreparably damaged by his work in it... It harks to an episode in the summer in which White House staff leaked word Trump had personally involved himself in the misleading explanations of Donald Trump Jr.’s meeting at Trump Tower with a Russian lawyer. In both cases, the aides seemed to be worried such misleading actions could do irreparable damage — for Trump with the Russia investigation and for Kelly with his and the White House’s credibility... In both cases, they apparently felt their only recourse was to put out word that the most powerful men in the White House were trying to mislead the American people.