What did Donald Trump know about the Rob Porter scandal and when did he know it? That’s been the overarching political question throughout an increasingly ugly domestic violence scandal and coverup which has ensnared everyone from John Kelly to Don McGahn to Hope Hicks, and has pushed the Trump White House into even more chaos than usual. In a desperate attempt at dialing things back, one of Trump’s own advisers just screwed up and admitted that Trump knew about the accusations against Porter after all.
Trump adviser Mick Mulvaney, who is best known for appearing on television and explaining why poor people should have even less money, ventured way out of his league this morning when he appeared on CBS News and tried to explain away the Porter scandal. It’s already been established that Kelly and McGahn knew for several months that Porter’s ex-wives had accused him of domestic abuse, yet the two White House officials kept it quiet and kept Porter on the job. When the scandal was about to become public, Kelly and his goons embarked on a bizarre coverup strategy which included, among other things, falsely claiming that Corey Lewandowski of all people had made up the allegations against Porter.
Trump’s own position in this has been that he didn’t know any of what was going on. Considering how oblivious he is toward certain things, and how inept he is at running his own White House, this might even be believable. The trouble: Mulvaney just blew it for him. Here’s what Mulvaney said on CBS: “The president had someone working for him who came to him and said, ‘Look, I’ve been accused of this, I’ve been falsely accused of this. Please don’t believe it. It’s not true.'” He then went on to claim that Trump didn’t know about the photos of Porter’s ex-wife’s battered face until later.
The trouble here: Donald Trump’s own adviser just admitted that Trump did indeed know about the allegations against Porter before the story became public. That’s not what the story has been up to this point. Once the story starts changing, the entire thing begins to fall apart. If Trump knew about the allegations, how much did he know about the attempted coverup? Was he involved in it? Did he tell John Kelly to try to find a way to get Porter off the hook? This scandal is just getting started, and now it’s not just a Porter scandal or a Kelly scandal. It’s a Trump scandal.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report