Welcome to WHAT NOW, a morning round-up of the news/fresh horrors that await you today.
Senior White House staff knew about the allegations of domestic abuse against aide Rob Porter by two of his ex-wives for months and did nothing to remove him or thwart his rise, CNN reported Monday night.
President Donald Trump learned about the allegations that Porter carried out consistent physically and emotional abuse earlier this week, according to CNN, which cited two sources familiar with the matter. He was reportedly upset by the allegations, as was his daughter and White House adviser Ivanka, who was particularly upset by graphic photos of the alleged abuse.
It was also apparently well-known in the White House by early last fall that Porter, who was Trump’s staff secretary, had been denied a security clearance because his ex-wives told the FBI he abused them. This apparently made no difference to anyone.
When the allegations were first widely reported on Wednesday, the White House rushed to Porter’s defense. Donald Trump’s chief of staff, John Kelly, urged Porter to “stay and fight” the charges rather than leave his job. And Porter found Republican defenders beyond his immediate colleagues, as his former employer, Utah Senator Orrin Hatch, released an astounding three statements defending the disgraced aide.
Remember when Kelly, another man of “honor,” was supposed to get this unruly West Wing into shape? I’m sure that in the coming days we’ll hear even more about how he did just that in service of protecting an alleged abuser above all else.
- In better news, competition in the Pyeongchang Winter Olympic Games begins today with the opening ceremony tomorrow. The United States faces off against Russia in curling. Can you say COLD WAR REDUX??
- We’re probably going to avert another government shutdown today as the Senate takes up a spending bill as big as the stimulus that got President Obama raked over the coals in 2009. For some reason, Republicans seem fine with it now.
- U.S. forces heavily bombed Syria last night, with the U.S.-led coalition claiming that 100 pro-regime fighters were killed. Today’s grim game: do a ctrl+F in any story about this for the word “civilian.”