Only when a photograph
of the battered face of one of Mr. Porter’s ex-wives was made public Wednesday did Trump administration officials recognize that his continued employment was no longer possible. Even then, the acknowledgment was somewhat begrudging. “I stand by my previous comments of the Rob Porter that I have come to know,” said White House Chief of Staff John F. Kelly after accepting Mr. Porter’s resignation. Those comments: “A man of true integrity and honor. . . I can’t say enough good things about him.” This, after the Daily Mail published harrowing accounts of abuse — denied by Mr. Porter — from former wives Jennie Willoughby and Colbie Holderness.
The White House, as has become clear from numerous news accounts, had known about the allegations
against Mr. Porter since late last year. They contributed to a delay in his receiving a permanent security clearance. But no one seemed to be fazed — neither by an accused wife beater working in the Oval Office nor, almost as startling, by someone lacking a full security clearance working for a year in the high-ranking, sensitive job of presidential gatekeeper.
Congressional Democrats have been trying for months to get information about the administration’s security-clearance process, including the number of aides granted interim clearances because of issues uncovered in background checks by the FBI. On Thursday, three Senate Democrats
called for an investigation into how the administration determines access to classified information. Republicans need to join in that effort and insist on answers from the White House about the process as well as the particulars of Mr. Porter’s case.
No doubt there will be political fallout from these events. Mr. Kelly’s critics already see an opening to get the knives out. What hopefully will not get lost is the need for women to speak up — and an urgency that, when they do, they will be listened to, as they were not, for too long, in this case.