Trump on Rob Porter: He says he’s innocent, you know
On the one hand, what else could Trump say? He went all-in for Roy Moore. He’s been accused of sexual misconduct himself, by more women than have accused Porter of abuse. If a mere denial from the accused is enough to cast serious doubt on the charges leveled against Trump and Moore, logically it has to be enough from Trump’s standpoint to cast doubt on the charges leveled at Porter. Besides, when push comes to shove, Porter’s been dismissed, right? Whatever Trump may say, his actions suggest that there was enough evidence against Porter to require his termination.
Still, there’s not one word here about Porter’s ex-wives or what they went through. There’s no condemnation of Porter at all, not even a perfunctory “I was shocked” or “the photo was disturbing” or whatever. Trump says he’s “surprised” by the charges and that the whole situation is “very sad,” but he adds that Porter himself is “very sad” about it too. He lavishes praise on his work. “We hope he has a wonderful career,” he adds. He notes that it’s a “tough time” for … Porter, never mind his ex-wives (or Hope Hicks!). He’s talking about a guy who’s very credibly accused of having blackened his ex-wife’s eye and who had a protective order filed against him by his second.
Well, innocent until proven guilty. Except … Trump’s never believed in that. On the contrary, he’s famous for not presuming innocence in his cultural and political enemies. The Central Park Five proclaimed their innocence — and were, in fact, innocent. Didn’t matter. Obama swore up and down that he was born in the United States. Didn’t matter. Ted Cruz insisted that his dad, um, didn’t conspire to assassinate John F. Kennedy. Didn’t matter. The FBI has said repeatedly that it committed no misconduct in obtaining the FISA warrant against Carter Page. Hasn’t mattered. “Innocent until proven guilty” is a legal standard, not a cultural standard. If it were, O.J. Simpson and Harvey Weinstein wouldn’t be pariahs. And the president’s ethics are, as always, situational. “Innocent until proven guilty” is important when it can be used to shield him or his team from something. But when he needs a sword against the other team, “guilty until proven innocent” is the way to go.
The next White House staffer to claim he’s innocent of wrongdoing, by the way, will be John Kelly. But if WaPo’s reporting is correct, he’ll be lying when he does.
During a staff meeting, Kelly told those in attendance to say that he took action to remove Porter within 40 minutes of learning that abuse allegations from two ex-wives were credible, according to the officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because discussions in such meetings are supposed to be confidential.
“He told the staff he took immediate and direct action,” one of the officials said, adding that people after the meeting expressed disbelief with one another and felt his latest account was not true.
That version of events contradicts both the public record and accounts from numerous other White House officials in recent days as the Porter drama unfolded.
The White House chief of staff is now formally instructing his deputies to lie in order to cover his ass on a developing scandal? I didn’t think Kelly could bungle this worse, but if that’s true then here we are. And boy, that news sure leaked awfully fast, didn’t it?
In lieu of an exit question, go read Ben Shapiro on this. Why were conservatives chanting “Lock her up!” in 2016, wonders Shapiro, when “innocent until proven guilty” is apparently the party’s first commandment now?