So called “new allegations” of domestic abuse by his two former wives led to the termination of White House Staff Secretary Rob Porter. But it seems as if the White House could have (should have) had access to this information for a long time. For more than a year, Porter has served in one of the most sensitive positions in government on a provisional security clearance. Why? What kept him from receiving a full clearance?
Just before the pictures of his first wife, Colbie Holderness, were released, White House Chief of Staff John Kelly said in a statement that Rob Porter (Harvard, Rhodes Scholar, Republican pedigree) “is a man of true integrity and honor.” Even after release of the pictures, Kelly at first “stood by” his statement. But when public pressure mounted and content of an interview with the FBI by his second wife, Jennie Willoughby, echoed the violence demonstrated in the picture, Kelly claimed to be “shocked” and Porter was out of a job.
This incident exposes two questions.
First, what else is the White House hiding?
The propensity by Trump administration officials and by the President himself for silence or outright untruths in the immediate aftermath of salacious or scurrilous allegations, only to change the story once proof is uncovered, is well documented. The latest incident gives us pause, causing us to wonder yet again what else is known by the White House that is not being reported. What else are they hiding? What secrets lurk in West Wing shadows of which we are still unaware? What will happen tomorrow? What is the next shoe to drop? Whose unsavory attitudes or actions will come to light? How will new revelations impact our allies and our adversaries?
A second question is this: Did they keep Porter until the last possible instant because they could not find anyone willing or able to take his place?
It is widely known that there are hundreds of positions in the current administration that have not been filled. Is one of the reasons because highly qualified individuals are simply unwilling to expose themselves to the unrealistic demands of this White House so that they duck for cover when the administration comes calling? This is no laughing matter as standard operations of the US Government go begging for lack of administrative direction. Empty offices could threaten us in unimaginable ways should a real crisis occur on the global stage.
While these questions are significant, perhaps it is the cavalier attitude towards domestic violence evidenced by people at the top–including Chief of Staff John Kelly–that is particularly troubling. Domestic abuse is unacceptable. It is essential that, as a society, we heed the voice of women, believe their words and secure their right to feel safe in both their private and public lives.
Post-Harvey Weinstein, the outpouring of public support for courageous women who have spoken up after being silenced for generations has been an inspiration and a beacon of hope for our country’s future. How sad that the White House continually lags behind the rest of society instead of leading the effort for gender justice. It is not a coincidence that the President himself faces accusations of sexual impropriety by several women or that he was caught on tape using vulgar descriptions of his own unsolicited, unwanted and violent assaults on women.
This is not only unacceptable. It is disgusting and potentially dangerous. All Americans should be should be outraged and insist that those who treat these issues as unimportant be removed from positions of power and influence.