The Rob Porter scandal has exposed the real John Kelly

Senior White House officials were aware for months of the allegations made against Trump's staff secretary, two sources familiar with the matter said on Wednesday after Porter resigned.

Jennifer Willoughby, the ex wife of former White House staff secretary Robert Porter who resigned this week after allegations he abused both of his ex wives surfaced, opened up on the Today show about the abusive relationship. Their accounts of Porter's conduct are harrowing, but attention has also been focused on the White House response to the allegations going public. Several aides and White House advisers expressed disgust, and said Kelly had failed the president if he knew about Porter's history with Porter's ex-wives and didn't inform Trump.

Trump was reportedly "surprised" and "disheartened" to hear the news.

The Washington Post reported late Thursday night that the White House counsel was told four times about the seriousness of the abuse allegations against Porter, but the counsel chose to ignore them because Porter was a "steadying, professional voice" in the White House.

Look, the fact is that the president has the authority to give anyone he wants access to classified information, security clearance or not.

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"He was curious what I was going to say, he really wanted to know, 'what are you going to tell them, '" she said.

The White House said Trump favoured a merit-based immigration system, which attracts the best and the brightest from across the world.

"The allegations against Rob Porter are serious and deeply troubling", Shah said.

On Wednesday, the Mail reported accusations by Porter's first wife, Colbie Holderness. "There is no place for domestic violence in our society", Kelly said in the statement.

Willoughby revealed to Guthrie that Porter reached out to her before she was contacted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation to ask what she was going to tell them about their relationship.

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That Marine colonel, Todd Shane Tomko, was the former commander of the Marines' Wounded Warrior Regiment, but according to his defense attorney and to Chief of Staff Kelly and other character witnesses at his court-martial, he had spiraled rapidly as a result of post-traumatic stress disorder.

Kelly staunchly defended Porter's integrity in a statement Tuesday before saying late Wednesday, after the photos of Holderness's black eye were published, that he was "shocked by the new allegations" against the staffer, who reports directly to him. She told the publication that Porter punched her while they were on vacation. She said she hadn't. "I'm not going to get into specifics about who may have known what pieces of information". Yet Porter had sat in on meetings of the National Security Council where top-secret matters were discussed, according to three people familiar with the situation.

"I've been transparent and truthful about these vile claims, but I will not further engage publicly with a coordinated smear campaign", he added.

When asked what he had asked her to say, Willoughby responded: 'I don't remember the exact wording, but it was something along the lines of the post does not accurately depict my marriage.

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