John Podesta said Friday he sees a White House under President Trump that is not doing an adequate job of damage control in regards to a controversy about a former aide who resigned this week amid allegations of domestic abuse.
"Well, you're supposed to cauterize the wound and instead I think they've just made it worse almost every day," Podesta said on CNN. Podesta, who was Hillary Clinton's campaign chair, served as staff secretary and chief of staff in former President Bill Clinton's administration.
Former Clinton chief of staff John Podesta on the White House's handling of Rob Porter: "You're supposed to cauterize the wound, and instead I think they've just made it worse almost every day" https://t.co/7ZpfxrQ98X pic.twitter.com/E6h2K8sBzV— The Lead CNN (@TheLeadCNN) February 9, 2018
This week, White House staff secretary Rob Porter announced his resignation after reports came out that Porter abused two ex-wives — allegations he denies.
Both Trump and chief of staff John Kelly have faced backlash for expressing praise for Porter's performance. Kelly in particular has come under intense fire as it was reported that he knew about a 2010 protective order against Porter and that it restricted Porter from obtaining full security clearance — but while he considered removing Porter, he decided against it. In follow-up statements Kelly has condemned domestic abuse but stood by his prior remarks about Porter's performance
These were the matters that Podesta said the White House bungled.
"First, by giving a solid endorsement to him when they knew he had this problem in his background, saying that he still had the confidence of the chief of staff at the White House and that he would remain in the position and then reversing course," Podesta said. "Then the chief of staff telling his staff that he immediately acted when they knew that wasn't true. And now of course this morning with the president kind of doubling down by saying that how much they appreciated Mr. Porter's service in the White House, without having any comment about the fact, of concern for his two ex-wives."
Asked if he thought Kelly should resign, as reports have indicated he has begun to talk about it, Podesta demurred.
"I think he is on very thin ice. It is hard to lose a chief of staff. Particularly one who is thought to have brought some level of discipline to the White House, which was, you know, highly chaotic under the previous chief of staff. But I think at this stage, particularly given the last couple days where he is changing his story, I think he is on very, very thin ice."
Podesta also said he believes White House counsel Don McGahn, who also reportedly knew of the Porter allegations previously, should resign.