White House Chief of Staff John F. Kelly on Friday morning instructed senior staff to communicate a version of events about the departure of staff secretary Rob Porter that contradicts the Trump administration’s previous accounts, according to two senior officials.
.. Kelly told those in attendance to say he took action to remove Porter within 40 minutes of learning that abuse allegations from two ex-wives were credible
.. “He told the staff he took immediate and direct action,”
.. The Porter crisis has damaged Kelly’s credibility not only publicly but also inside the White House, where officials said he was losing the support of some West Wing staffers because of his management of the situation and apparent lack of transparency.
.. “He also, as you probably know, says he’s innocent, and I think you have to remember that,” Trump said, adding that Porter did “very well” in the White House.
.. The instructions by Kelly early Friday mark the latest twist in the White House’s shifting accounts of the Porter episode
.. Kelly said in a statement: “Rob Porter is a man of true integrity and honor, and I can’t say enough good things about him. He is a friend, a confidante and a trusted professional. I am proud to serve alongside him.”
.. On Wednesday morning, after photographs were posted on Twitter overnight by an Intercept reporter showing one of Porter’s ex-wives with a black eye, Kelly privately stood by Porter and urged him to stay in the job, White House officials said at the time.
.. Later Wednesday night, Kelly issued a new statement condemning domestic violence and saying he was “shocked by the new allegations” against Porter