Carpenter: This White House defends abusers

Our political panel on the Rob Porter scandal.

Posted: Feb 9, 2018 9:20 AM
Updated: Feb 9, 2018 9:20 AM

With critics of chief of staff John Kelly calling for his resignation after he supported an accused wife beater who recently resigned from the White House staff, it's time to ask a simple question: How many appalling characters must be wrung out of the West Wing before we recognize that the problem is the man at the top, who sets the tone for the workplace culture?

Kelly's stubborn defense of Robert Porter, who faces abuse accusations from three women, including a former wife who shared a photograph of her bruised face with the media, is consistent with President Trump's lifelong penchant for doubling down on outrageous statements. Decades of this practice trained many people to accept "Trump being Trump," which meant they discounted his racist, sexist comments and tweets. More importantly, the more Trump got away with his outrageous behavior, the more he came to regard this trait as something positive -- and he brought into his inner circle men with the same bully-boy ways.

Hopes that Kelly might be a stable influence on the President faded as he got in on an unseemly spat between Trump and a war widow who felt the President disrespected her. More recently, Kelly exposed himself as truly Trumpian by saying "some would say" immigrants who failed to enroll in DACA were "too lazy to get off their asses." The very next day Kelly offered presidential-grade bluster in response to news that Robert Porter, the man who controls the flow of information in the Oval office, couldn't pass an FBI background check because of accusations of abuse from three women, two of whom are his former wives. He said in a statement that Porter was "a man of true integrity and honor and I can't say enough good things about him. He is a friend, a confidante, and a trusted professional. I am proud to serve alongside him."

In staffing his campaign for president and later his administration, Trump either attracted or sought out men with attitudes similar to his own. In this crowd it was okay to be overly aggressive, or burdened with a sketchy background, just as long as you were truly useful to the President and didn't upstage him. Consider this list:

Corey Lewandowski, Trump's first campaign manager, was the embodiment of obnoxious pugnacity and ended up on video grabbing a female reporter at an event, forcibly preventing her from asking Trump a question. Although battery charges were dropped, proof of the altercation remains available online. Days later, Lewandowski grabbed a protester at a Trump rally. In both cases, the candidate defended his man, but when he became too much of a distraction, he was let go.

Paul Manafort, who replaced Lewandowski as campaign manager, came to the Trump campaign from the dark corners of international political consulting, where his clients included a rogue's gallery that should have disqualified him from any presidential hopeful's campaign. Add his connections to Russian oligarchs, and Manafort was toxic. But he was also a guy willing to do what others would not, and this is a trait Trump displays himself. So it was that Manafort became a Trump insider until, of course, he was ousted -- and later indicted by special counsel Robert Mueller as part of the investigation into Russia's election meddling.

Steve Bannon followed Manafort into Trump's campaign and then the White House, despite, or rather because of, his reputation as a tough-guy extremist. In his prior job as head of the Breitbart news organization, he published virulent anti-Muslim and anti-woman pieces, and welcomed so-called alt-right provocateurs who exhibit a range of hateful attitudes. Bannon's personal problems included sexist comments in the workplace and his ex-wife's accusations of assault (charges were later dismissed). Nevertheless, Trump drew Bannon close and kept him close until he started to upstage him in press interviews. Only then was he forced out.

Michael Flynn, like Gen. Kelly, was a military man, and was every bit the tough guy in the campaign as he chanted "lock her up!" about Hillary Clinton. This display, which disrespected the rank Flynn had achieved in the Army and showed terrible judgment to boot, would be enough to disqualify him from serving some presidents. In Trump's case, it likely cemented Flynn's standing. He served as White House national security adviser for less than a month. He now stands convicted of lying to the FBI and is cooperating with Robert Mueller's Russia investigation.

Sebastian Gorka, a campaign adviser who followed Trump to the White House, came with questionable expertise and links to ultra-nationalists. He has a longstanding warrant for his arrest issued by authorities in his native Hungary related to an incident involving a firearm. In 2016 he was stopped at an airport, where he tried to enter carrying a gun. He has noted that his "everyday carry" includes a pistol, a knife, and a tourniquet. Trump ignored these obvious signs of trouble as he relied on Gorka to berate his critics. Then he seemed to run afoul of a new chief of staff -- John Kelly -- and left his White House post.

Kelly, a retired marine general, was supposed to be the man who would calm Trump's White House, and Gorka's departure suggested he was up to the task. The President was obviously comfortable with Kelly because he was a military man (Trump famously loves generals) with a tough-guy demeanor, and because he was, like Trump, a hawk on immigration.

And now, Robert Porter. As sensible people responded with alarm to the news that the White House employed Porter even after red flags were raised about his past, Kelly defended him as "a man of true integrity and honor." Kelly's statement, and reports that he encouraged Porter to stay on the job, reveal the inclinations of a man ruled by attitude, not sober reflection. These actions also threatened Kelly's own reputation.

Whether Kelly stays or goes, he is now yet another example of the toxic workplace culture created by Donald Trump, who clearly brought into his administration the kinds of men who make him feel at ease. Trump has a lifelong record of bullying, aggression, lying, and extremism. (He is, remember, the man who joked about sexually assaulting women on the infamous "Access Hollywood" tape.) The six men noted above, and a host of other figures in the administration, have come out of the Trump mold and proven incapable of better.

Terre Haute
Cloudy
43° wxIcon
Hi: 50° Lo: 28°
Feels Like: 38°
Robinson
Cloudy
40° wxIcon
Hi: 47° Lo: 31°
Feels Like: 35°
Indianapolis/Eagle Creek
Cloudy
40° wxIcon
Hi: 47° Lo: 26°
Feels Like: 36°
Paris
Cloudy
40° wxIcon
Hi: 49° Lo: 27°
Feels Like: 35°
Mattoon/Charleston
Cloudy
40° wxIcon
Hi: 48° Lo: 30°
Feels Like: 34°
Terre Haute
Cloudy
43° wxIcon
Hi: 49° Lo: 28°
Feels Like: 38°
Terre Haute
Cloudy
43° wxIcon
Hi: 49° Lo: 27°
Feels Like: 38°
Scattered Showers
WTHI Planner
WTHI Temps
WTHI Radar

Latest Video

Image

MARSHALL RED HILL

Image

BARR REEVE BLOOMFIELD

Image

WASH CATH VIN RIV

Image

NORTH DAVIESS SULLIVAN

Image

MT VERNON POSEY WASHINGTON

Image

DUGGER RIVERTON PARKE

Image

LINTON GBB STATE FINALS

Image

THN LAF JEFF

Image

Overnight: Scattered showers possible. Low: 40°

Image

A Farmer's Perspective

WTHI Events

 

Illinois Coronavirus Cases

(Widget updates once daily at 7 p.m. CT)

Cases: 1181144

Reported Deaths: 22607
CountyCasesDeaths
Cook4722069317
DuPage763981190
Will64655885
Lake59119918
Kane50439711
Winnebago28263436
Madison27835453
St. Clair25283463
McHenry24190263
Champaign18020123
Peoria16848260
Sangamon16072216
McLean14538156
Tazewell13458239
Rock Island13030286
Kankakee12438189
Kendall1098684
LaSalle10746218
Macon9417185
Vermilion8528114
DeKalb8226112
Adams7994114
Williamson6778119
Boone591271
Whiteside5907147
Clinton556389
Coles517090
Grundy508462
Knox5013131
Ogle498773
Jackson459460
Effingham448569
Macoupin434079
Henry431956
Marion4255111
Livingston416475
Franklin413965
Stephenson407875
Monroe405183
Jefferson3969115
Randolph395778
Woodford365260
Morgan357976
Montgomery347367
Lee334243
Logan330453
Christian329466
Bureau329173
Fayette306552
Perry303357
Fulton284044
Iroquois276660
Jersey248946
Douglas242632
McDonough231440
Lawrence228824
Saline228447
Union218436
Shelby213034
Crawford200321
Bond190224
Cass187822
Pike168750
Clark168029
Hancock166729
Wayne166748
Warren166443
Richland163438
Jo Daviess160522
White160125
Washington157823
Ford157045
Carroll156934
Edgar154037
Moultrie148722
Clay142641
Greene137631
Johnson134712
Piatt131814
Wabash129812
De Witt127722
Mercer127632
Mason127541
Massac125832
Cumberland118618
Jasper110517
Menard10348
Marshall83414
Hamilton78315
Schuyler6755
Pulaski6705
Brown6606
Stark53722
Edwards52310
Henderson49814
Calhoun4782
Scott4481
Alexander4478
Gallatin4364
Putnam4133
Hardin34412
Pope2823
Out of IL00
Unassigned02201

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

(Widget updates once daily at 8 p.m. ET)

Cases: 659127

Reported Deaths: 12494
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion903271628
Lake48239872
Allen35663632
Hamilton31929395
St. Joseph29721510
Elkhart25306412
Vanderburgh21173377
Tippecanoe19873199
Johnson16290355
Porter15896268
Hendricks15765300
Clark11885179
Madison11704315
Vigo11538229
Monroe10285159
Delaware9815178
LaPorte9732195
Howard9030195
Kosciusko8529108
Bartholomew7412147
Hancock7392128
Warrick7389147
Floyd7172165
Wayne6616189
Grant6411157
Morgan6054124
Boone605388
Dubois5885111
Dearborn542366
Henry540792
Marshall5406104
Cass539699
Noble508176
Jackson463664
Shelby459390
Lawrence4165111
Gibson401081
Harrison397061
Clinton393753
Montgomery384283
DeKalb384078
Knox355784
Miami355663
Whitley347835
Huntington341276
Steuben337155
Wabash329776
Putnam327359
Ripley325661
Adams321549
Jasper314243
White296151
Jefferson293370
Daviess284696
Fayette270856
Decatur269788
Greene260679
Posey260131
Wells256574
Scott249649
LaGrange240570
Clay239744
Randolph225276
Spencer216630
Jennings214144
Washington209327
Sullivan202639
Fountain200942
Starke186950
Owen181853
Fulton177737
Jay177328
Carroll176118
Perry173035
Orange170750
Rush164322
Vermillion159541
Franklin158835
Tipton145841
Parke138415
Pike127432
Blackford120327
Pulaski106444
Newton96431
Brown94839
Benton91613
Crawford90413
Martin80014
Switzerland7527
Warren75212
Union66910
Ohio52911
Unassigned0429