You know what worries me? This week, I’m worried about WHY the Rob Porter scandal is still clinging to the Trump administration like a fart in an elevator. The Bigly White House has endured a million scandals at this point, and it feels like the issue of “Donald Trump and his people are totally fine with men who beat women” doesn’t even really make the Top Ten list of massive f–kups. My concern is that the Rob Porter scandal is hanging around because Donald Trump is about to go on another firing binge and he’ll use the scandal as an excuse for firing chief-of-staff John Kelly and probably like ten people at DOJ. Of course, there’s always the possibility that the controversy is hanging around because these motherf–kers keep lying about it AND because Donald Trump refuses to go on the record about whether he thinks it’s a bad thing to beat your wife.
The White House struggled Tuesday to contain a widening crisis over its handling of domestic violence allegations against a senior official, as it reeled after sworn testimony by the FBI chief directly contradicted what President Trump’s aides had presented as the official version of events. FBI Director Christopher A. Wray told the Senate Intelligence Committee that the bureau had completed a background report on then-staff secretary Rob Porter last July and closed out the case entirely last month. Wray’s account is at odds with White House claims that the investigation required for Porter’s security clearance was “ongoing” until he left his job last week, after his two ex-wives publicly alleged physical and emotional abuse.
The latest bout of turbulence is exacerbated by the administration’s reputation, earned over 13 chaotic months, for flouting institutional norms and misrepresenting facts to the public — a culture set by the president himself. The public relations fallout is further compounded by Trump’s own history of alleged sexual assault and his seeming reluctance to publicly condemn violence against women and give voice to the national #MeToo reckoning.
Trump also ignored the questions asked of him about Rob Porter during a short Q&A session yesterday. Reportedly, Trump hasn’t expressed any sympathy (privately or publicly) for Rob Porter’s ex-wives, or any woman who is the victim of violence and abuse. Probably because Donald Trump brags about assaulting women and he’s still being accused of assaulting more than a dozen women too.
One of the women he did NOT assault? Stormy Daniels, who by her own account had consensual sex with Donald Trump a few times circa 2005. She told her story to the tabloids several times over the years, but during the 2016 election cycle, Trump’s people paid her to STFU. The issue was whether Trump used campaign funds to pay off a p0rn star. His lawyer Michael Cohen now claims that he (Cohen) paid Stormy with his own money. Huh.
President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer said Tuesday that he paid $130,000 of his own money to a porn star who allegedly had a sexual encounter with the President before his time in office.
“In a private transaction in 2016, I used my own personal funds to facilitate a payment of $130,000 to Ms. Stephanie Clifford,” Michael Cohen said in a statement. “Neither the Trump Organization nor the Trump campaign was a party to the transaction with Ms. Clifford, and neither reimbursed me for the payment, either directly or indirectly.”
Just weeks before the 2016 election, Cohen reportedly created a private LLC to pay Clifford, otherwise known as Stormy Daniels, following an alleged July 2006 encounter with Trump, The Wall Street Journal reported in January. The New York Times first reported that Cohen had said he made the payment himself. Following initial reports last month that Cohen had made the payment, he said in a statement that Trump “vehemently denies” any encounter between the two.
In January, the organization Common Cause filed complaints with the Federal Election Commission and the Justice Department, alleging that the reported payment to Clifford constituted a campaign finance violation. But on Tuesday, Cohen’s statement denied that accusation and said the monetary exchange was “lawful” and “not a campaign contribution.”
“The payment to Ms. Clifford was lawful, and was not a campaign contribution or a campaign expenditure by anyone,” Cohen said. Cohen also said he filed a reply with the FEC, but that filing will not be public until the agency has resolved the matter. When asked why he made the payment, Cohen told CNN: “Just because something isn’t true doesn’t mean that it can’t cause you harm or damage. I will always protect Mr. Trump.”
If you think the Stormy Daniels issue will be the undoing of our Dear Leader, then I have some news for you: this doesn’t even make the Top Ten list either. I mean, of course it’s shady and of course Donald Trump cheated on his third wife with a p0rn star (who reminded him of his daughter) and of course he paid her off to keep quiet. But this isn’t what will bring him down.
Photos courtesy of Getty.