President Trump believes his chief of staff was "uninformed" about allegations against White House staff secretary Rob Porter that surfaced last week, and has no current plans to oust him from his post.
Porter resigned from the administration last Wednesday, after both of his ex-wives accused him of verbal, emotional, and domestic abuse during their marriages to him. Though Trump publicly defended Porter in comments to reporters on Friday, Axios reported Monday that the president has said privately he believes his former aide's accusers.
In the midst of the scandal surrounding Porter, who spent months operating on an interim security clearance, White House chief of staff John Kelly has come under fire. Multiple outlets have reported that Kelly encouraged his colleagues to offer a different account of Porter's exit from what actually transpired – one that would exonerate him from rumors that he was made aware of the allegations against Porter months ago and let him remain in the West Wing.
However, a source close to the White House said the president believes his chief of staff has become entangled in a mess he had no part in creating. And the president does not intend to replace Kelly because of it.
"Trump believes Kelly was uninformed because Porter lied to him," the source said, noting that some staffers have pushed for Kelly's ouster "but Trump is not ready to pull the trigger."
Office of Management and Budget director Mick Mulvaney made similar statements during a talk show appearance on Sunday, accusing those who have called for Kelly to be fired of harboring personal grudges against him.
"I think all the stories about replacing General Kelly are mostly being fed by people who are unhappy that they've lost access to the president under General Kelly's leadership as chief of staff," Mulvaney told Fox News' Chris Wallace.
The source close to the White House said Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner and daughter Ivanka have been involved in discussions about replacing Kelly, though they have not yet settled on who would succeed him in such an event.
According to multiple reports, Trump first learned of the domestic abuse accusations against Porter on Wednesday when he was handed a copy of the Daily Mail article that broke the story. The president then posted a tweet over the weekend that appeared to take aim at the #MeToo movement and allegations like those Porter faced.
"Peoples live are being shattered and destroyed by a mere allegation. Some are true and some are false. Some are old and some are new. There is no recovery for someone falsely accused — life and career are gone. Is there no such thing any longer as Due Process?" he tweeted.