White House chief of staff John Kelly, who has come under fire for his handling of domestic abuse allegations leveled against the White House staff secretary Rob Porter, told aides on Friday that he was responsible for securing Porter’s resignation after the allegations became public.
“I got his resignation,” Kelly said during a meeting with White House aides Friday morning, two sources familiar with the meeting told CNN.
Kelly’s rehashing of the events, which conflicts with public and behind-the-scenes accounts from multiple sources, left some White House officials with the impression that Kelly was trying to get senior staff to get on the same page about the recent events – and offering a rosier picture of his own actions – the sources said. The Washington Post first reported details of the meeting.
A third source who was in the meeting Friday says Kelly sought to clarify the role he played in the resignation of Rob Porter and went over the timeline during a senior staff meeting Friday morning.
Kelly said he took action within 40 minutes of seeing the photos that had surfaced overnight showing one of Porter’s ex-wives with a black eye she claims she got because of Porter.
Kelly’s account, though, contradicts the version of events that has emerged from numerous sources in the days since the allegations against Porter surfaced, which said that Porter resigned over Kelly’s objections.
The account also appears to contradict the public accounting of the saga as Kelly released a statement praising Porter’s character after the Daily Mail published the allegations of both of Porter’s ex-wives, who claimed Porter had physically and emotionally abused them.
Kelly’s glowing statement about Porter emerged roughly 12 hours after the photos of the black eye surfaced around 2 a.m. Wednesday.
CNN has also reported that Kelly and other senior White House officials learned months earlier about the allegations against Porter, but did nothing to remove him from his position, in which he handled the classified documents that reached President Donald Trump.
CNN’s Kaitlan Collins contributed to this report.