Anthony Scaramucci on Portergate: Kelly must go

Are any other Trump cronies calling for Kelly to be fired or is it just the Mooch so far? Trump won’t care if the media wants Kelly out, or if disgruntled West Wing deputies do, or if, uh, most of America outside of his own base does. But if Trump loyalists like Scaramucci start turning on him, that may mean Kelly has a problem. If POTUS’s own mouthpieces, like Sean Hannity, begin calling for Kelly’s head, that’ll be the death knell. No way would they carry out a media hit on the White House chief of staff without the boss’s approval.

On the other hand, how much stock can you put in Scaramucci’s criticism of Kelly? Kelly’s the guy who humiliated him in front of the world by firing him as comms director after 11 days.

Kelly insists that the Porter matter was handled wonderfully and expeditiously even though, uh, the head of the FBI testified that it wasn’t around six hours ago:

“It was all done right,” Kelly told the Wall Street Journal in comments published Tuesday.

Kelly has come under fire for his handling of the matter and initial statement of support for Porter, and FBI Director Chris Wray on Tuesday offered information about Porter’s security clearance process that conflicted with the White House’s stated timeline.

Kelly said “no” when asked if the White House should have handled the scandal differently.

It was all done right? Read this piece by former Bill Clinton NSC member William Antholis on how tightly held top-secret information is even within the White House. The president sees it, of course, as does the national security advisor, the chief of staff, and a precious few others — among them the staff secretary, the position held by Porter until recently. It is bananas, says Antholis, that someone without a permanent security clearance would be looped in on info that sensitive. And as best as he can figure, since interim security clearances lapse after six months and can be renewed once, Porter’s second clearance probably expired in mid-January — meaning that he may have had access to top-secret material for a time without any clearance, interim or otherwise. If the FBI was so skeptical of Porter to have refused him a permanent clearance, what the hell was Kelly doing letting Porter see the most classified material in the building? Or did he actually preside over a situation where the president’s staff secretary *wasn’t allowed* to see sensitive information that everyone else in the inner circle could?

And … what can we possibly make of this?

They were going to give this guy an even bigger role in the White House, knowing that the FBI was concerned about blackmail vulnerabilities and fully aware of the domestic-abuse accusations against him, which could have leaked (and ultimately did leak) to the press at any moment? W-w-w-what?

You can thank Jared Kushner and his enablers in the White House for this clusterfark. Jared’s another guy who remains strangely lacking a security clearance despite his innermost inner-circle relationship to Trump and his gigantic policy portfolio. If it’s okay for him to see state secrets despite the FBI’s misgivings about his blackmail potential, why shouldn’t it be okay for Porter? Why shouldn’t it be okay for anyone who’s loyal to the president to see them? They wouldn’t share classified information with any bad guys, right?Actual quote from WaPo a few days ago: “Those in [White House counsel Don] McGahn’s office, people familiar with the matter said, feel they cannot take action on other people whose background checks have dragged on because they did not take similar steps with Kushner.” Kushner is the rotten tree that’s bearing spoiled fruit like Porter. “Portergate” is, to some extent, Kushnergate.

But there’s good news for the president here: No one cares. Well, not a lot of people, anyway.

The media’s devoted a lot of energy to Porter and Kelly over the past week but just a quarter of the public say they know a “lot” about the situation. Those know only a “little” probably know only the most basic facts, that Porter was accused of abusing his two ex-wives, but little to nothing about Kelly, McGahn, and others looking the other way at the accusations, let alone the national-security implications of Porter being refused a permanent security clearance. Those who do know at least a little about the story agree that the accusations against Porter should disqualify him from serving in the White House (Republicans split 44/22) but there’s simply not much awareness of (or interest in?) this scandal among POTUS’s base or even among independents. And the deeper it gets into the weeds of what secondary players like Kelly knew and when, the less interest there’s likely to be.

Oh, by the way: Porter has an explanation for how his ex came to have that black eye. She was trying to smash a vase and she and Porter ended up struggling over it and, wouldn’t you know it, she fell and injured her eye in such a way that it looks *exactly* like someone punched her. Accidents will happen.