We expected to hear some pretty bizarre, unhinged, and flat-out dumb attempts by Donald Trump’s diehard supporters to spin White House staff secretary Rob Porter going down in flames amid reports that he’d physically abused his first wife and emotionally abused his second wife. But we already have what may have been the most bizarre, unhinged, and flat-out dumbest response to this affair. If we’re to believe Fox News’ Judge Jeanine Pirro, the whole thing is all Barack Obama’s fault.
On Saturday night’s edition of “Justice with Judge Jeanine,” Pirro devoted her “Opening Statement” to the Porter saga. Watch here.
Pirro spent most of her career as an assistant district attorney, and later district attorney, in Westchester County, New York advocating for battered women. She started the nation’s first domestic violence unit in a local prosecutor’s office. She spoke with a senior White House official who detailed the process by which White House staffers get security clearances.
By design, it’s a very invasive process. The standard form for requesting access to classified information, Form SF86, asks “everything about you”–friends, addresses, bank records, foreign travel and contacts, employment history. The FBI then begins a detailed investigation that can take anywhere from six to eight months in the normal course of events. After the FBI concludes its investigation, protocol calls for the White House to conduct its own probe.
When John Kelly became White House Chief of Staff, he was told that the investigation into Porter was “complicated.” With no specific problems had been highlighted at the time, Kelly wanted things moved along.
According to Pirro, Kelly returned to the White House to learn about claims that Porter’s second wife, Jennifer Willoughby, had emotionally abused her. When Kelly asked Porter about them, Porter not only denied them, but also denied there was a police report or restraining order against him. Just 40 minutes later, Kelly learned that Porter’s first wife, Colbie Holderness, now claimed he’d physically abused her. According to Pirro, Kelly called Porter back in and told him to resign.
This account matches what a number of White House officials say they were told on Friday. But it doesn’t square with Kelly’s earlier praise of Porter–including after the news of Holderness’ account flashed across the wires–or reports that it was Porter who offered to resign and Kelly who wanted him to stay on.
Nor does it square with reports that White House officials knew about the allegations against Porter for several months. It doesn’t square with Trump’s subsequent defense of him, both on-air and on Twitter. Most seriously, it doesn’t offer any explanation for why Porter was allowed to hold a post that normally requires the highest level of security clearance.
But Pirro not only glossed over these details, but somehow found a way to point the finger at Obama.
“You want to stop a four-star general who is running the White House, who believes in chain of command, who makes a decision within 40 minutes, because you hate Donald Trump? Find another scapegoat. You might want to look at the last president.”
Excuse me, Judge Jeanine? You would think that a woman who was an assistant district attorney for 16 years, a judge for two years, and a district attorney for 11 years would know that extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. Apparently Pirro has caught the same disease as Roy Moore, a former judge, who tried to make us think screaming “FAKE NEWS!” and “politically motivated!” was a defense.
What made this even more breathtaking is that this came just minutes after Pirro called out Porter as a “cunning” and “clever” fraud who hid his abusive nature behind his Harvard Law degree and his Rhodes Scholarship. Then again, a stopped clock is right twice a day.
Later in the show, Pirro tried to make us think she was offering extraordinary evidence that Obama was responsible for Porter being able to pull the wool over our eyes. Unfortunately, the man she brought on to make that “case” was former Trump adviser, so-called terrorism expert, and raving Islamophobe Sebastian Gorka. Watch here.
— Fox News (@FoxNews) February 11, 2018
— Fox News (@FoxNews) February 11, 2018
Gorka mused that CIA agents investigating a number of top White House staffers “slow-rolled” the investigations in an effort to “gum up the works” and make Trump’s job harder. He claims to have known about situations where people got slow-rolled while “a deliberate minefield” was set up to explode–and ensure that a lot of people got hit by the shrapnel.
Pirro ate it up. She wondered how it could be possible for an investigation to drag out for a year when, on paper, it was “easy stuff.” Gorka believed it shouldn’t take any more than two months to get a clearance. However, “the swamp has many ways to undermine an administration.”
Um, Judge Jeanine? Sebastian? Even if there’s anything at all to this conspiracy theory, how does that explain Porter being allowed to have a job that normally requires access to some of the most sensitive classified information this country has, when his interim clearance shouldn’t have allowed him that access?
Granted, there is an innocent explanation–Kelly may have simply worked around Porter. But there are two explanations that aren’t so innocent. It’s possible that Kelly may have knowingly allowed Porter access to highly classified information without a clearance, or may have waived the rules for him. If either of these scenarios prove true, you cannot credibly blame “the swamp” for either of them.
All things considered, this looks like a typically Trumpian response from two of Trump’s most diehard loyalists–deflect, deflect, deflect, and blame the Kenyan Socialist Mooslamb. But if you peek behind the curtain and wade through the smoke, you’ll see a president and a chief of staff who, at minimum, owe this country an explanation for how a man credibly accused of domestic violence could hold a sensitive West Wing post without a proper clearance.
(featured image courtesy Pirro’s Facebook)