Trump Supports a Man Accused of Misconduct (Again)
In what could only be described as an unsurprising, yet infuriating development in the saga of Trump White House scandals, staff secretary Rob Porter quit last week under allegations of physical and mental abuse concerning his two ex-wives. The reaction from the White House was, at best, mixed, and at worst, a chaotic attempt to push blame onto anyone but themselves.
Initially, many staffers reportedly encouraged Porter to “stay and fight”, but when it became clear he would have to resign, they all crafted a unified message. And then promptly discredited it. Press Secretary Sanders announced the resignation, set the official timeline and defended Porter. John Kelly released a statement, the details of which multiple officials disputed. And so, things were already going badly when Trump decided to take a stand, tweeting “There is no recovery for someone falsely accused — life and career are gone. Is there no such thing any longer as Due Process?”. When he was attacked for supporting Porter, Mick Mulvaney quickly came to his defense, saying he was not speaking about Porter, but about Steve Wynn, who stepped down from his RNC position amid more sexual assault allegations.
There’s a lot to unpack here. I’ll start by saying that a good defense for Trump supporting an abuser is probably not that he was supporting a harasser instead. The fact that there were multiple people that tweet could have even been about reminds us just how concerning the crowd Trump surrounds himself with is. But on a deeper note, this story encapsulates just how hard it can be to talk about the Trump administration. This story could very well be a process story, as administration officials contradict themselves and it becomes clear a man who could not pass a background check had access to secure information. And it is important to point out just how chaotic the White House is, especially when national secrets are at stake. Still, we must be careful not to lose the heart of the story, the reason for the chaos. This is fundamentally a story about the Trump administration attempting to deal with the fact they employed an abuser, and were largely completely okay with it. Not only was horror not their first reaction, it has not been shown in any of Trump’s statements. There has been no unequivocal condemnation of Porter, or of abusers at all. What cannot get lost is that no matter how incompetent and chaotic the White House is, they surely can find a way to condemn someone as terrible as Rob Porter. They just have to decide they want to.