The scandal surrounding White House Staff Secretary Rob Porter’s sudden resignation (following domestic abuse allegations from his two ex-wives) has morphed into a fiasco over how John Kelly handled the situation, possibly shielding Porter while increasing his duties. It’s such a bad look, in fact, that Kellyanne Conway spoke with CNN’s Jake Tapper State of the Union in an attempt to mop up the mess. She did so after President Trump not only declared himself “very sad” over the “tough time” for Porter (while ignoring his accusers) but also seemingly doubled down in his Porter defense by tweeting, “Lives are being shattered by a mere allegation.”
How does Conway feel about the situation? Well, she tiptoes around Trump, who she claims was tweeting in a “general” sense, not about Porter. She also won’t find fault with any White House official who stressed the importance of Porter’s denial and claim of a “smear campaign,” despite the widely-circulated black-eye photo of Porter’s first ex-wife, Colbie Holderness. However, Conway has judged the situation for herself and feels that “we as individuals have a duty” to look at each set of domestic abuse accusations on its own merits. And in the case of Porter, she sees enough evidence to believe his accusers:
“In this case, you have contemporaneous police reports, you have women speaking to the FBI under threat of perjury … you have photographs, and when you look at all of that pulled together, you realize that Rob Porter did the right thing by resigning … I have no reason not to believe the women.”
Possibly by design, this is a kinder, gentler Conway, who treads a careful line while explaining how she and the rest of Porter’s colleagues were surprised. “A week ago, I had no reason to believe that [the abuse] had ever happened,” she stated. Conway then drew a comparison to Jake Tapper, who she would also have a hard time believing could be abusive, and she’d have to see evidence to believe that as well. Still, Conway stopped short in answering Tapper’s question on whether Trump now believes Porter committed domestic abuse. She would only state, “The president is very disturbed by what he sees.”
Elsewhere in the clip, Conway asserted that she couldn’t provide insight on reports that John Kelly and White House Counsel Don McGahn knew about the allegations for months — because she wouldn’t have been privy to such an investigation. Conway also said that Trump’s not planning upon replacing Kelly, and she’s not worried about the safety of Communications DIrector Hope Hicks, who’s dating Porter, because “she has a great support system around her.” Watch Conway’s full CNN appearance below.