If not outright lying, Kelly’s handling of this smacks of sheer incompetence. Was he covering up for his unwise decision to keep around an accused wife abuser? Did Kelly defy the normal security clearance process to protect not only Porter but also Jared Kushner and others who cannot qualify for the necessary clearance? We don’t know, but it is hard to argue that Kelly at this point, particularly if he intentionally misled the country, should be permitted to remain.
In a normal administration, Kelly likely would have been fired by now. In this White House, we don’t know if Trump had approved Porter remaining on and therefore consented to the Kelly cover-up or whether the president was bamboozled along with the rest of the country. If Kelly remains, the former explanation becomes more plausible — and more reprehensible.
At this point, Congress should take the unusual step of requiring Kelly to come testify, whether or not Trump fires him. He needs to answer, behind closed doors if need be:
- How did Porter keep his job without the appropriate clearance?
- Did they understand the security risk (e.g., blackmail) in allowing Porter to remain?
- How many others denied permanent clearance in the White House have closed files but retain access to classified material?
- Did Trump approve these security arrangements?
- Why was Kushner denied clearance? Was it related to his inexplicable failures to disclose Russia-related financial material and meetings?
Hillary Clinton sure has reason to wonder why her home email server was such a to-do while this White House allows, presumably, a slew of characters with questionable backgrounds access to our nation’s secrets. Isn’t it time for Trump to come clean and then justify why his White House plays fast and loose with our nation’s secrets?