Kelly on leaving DHS: 'God punished me, I guess'


Critics of the Trump White House say the system of security clearances is politicised - in a way that's unique to this administration.

"There was no story out yet", Kelly said.

Kelly made the comment during an impromptu press briefing, in which he addressed the issue of missing security clearances for Porter, as well as a number of other top White House aides. He said Porter had "presented himself as the ultimate gentleman" while he worked at the White House.

That assertion is "bunk", according to the Daily Mail's US political editor, David Martosko, who said his publication did not bring the first ex-wife's claims to the attention of the White House until the following morning, February 7.

Kelly's tenure has been rocky from the start, though he was initially widely lauded as a sober voice and disciplinarian that the White House needed.

Trump moved Kelly from DHS to the White House back in July 2017 to replace exiting chief of staff Reince Priebus.

Kelly stated that it wasn't until later in the evening on February 6, after a second abuse allegation from Porter's first wife was published, that Porter offered his resignation.

Kelly said he never considered resigning over the episode, despite reports to the contrary. Over a few hours that day, Kelly said, he had issued a statement in strong support of Porter after Porter's second former wife, Jennifer Willoughby, accused him of abuse.

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While Kelly admitted the White House's response was "confusing", his account also doesn't add up with TPM's timeline of how the resignation came about. White House press secretary Sarah Sanders has repeatedly told reporters she does not discuss the individual security clearances of White House officials.

"I miss every one of you, every day", Kelly said, rolling his eyes.

Cooper opened tonight by saying, "Having heard so many misrepresentations and so many insultingly untrue or incomplete statements from the White House, we simply could not imagine they would even dream of bringing it up again". "Just an inquiry... He had already resigned".

I get that. But it's hard in retrospect to see Kelly's opinion of Porter as anything more than as a misjudgment.

"The first accusation had to do with a messy divorce but no mention of [any] type of physical abuse", Kelly said then, describing the events of February 6 following the second allegation, which included physical abuse.

In recent weeks, John Kelly underwent high scrutiny, as he wrongly handled the domestic violence incident and allegations faced by Rob Porter, the ex-White House staff secretary.

"The man we all knew, it was an absolute shock", Kelly said.