Kellyanne Conway: Trump has "full confidence" in John Kelly and Hope Hicks

Conway said she believed Rob Porter's ex-wives, but that Trump still remained confident in those who knew about it

By Charlie May

Published February 11, 2018 12:04PM (EST)

 (AP/Carolyn Kaster/Evan Vucci)
(AP/Carolyn Kaster/Evan Vucci)

White House adviser Kellyanne Conway said on Sunday morning that President Donald Trump has "full confidence" in both his chief of staff John Kelly and communications director Hope Hicks, in wake of the domestic violence scandal surrounding former White House staff secretary Rob Porter. However, Conway also noted in a separate interview that she has "no reason not to believe" the ex-wives of Porter who have alleged physical and emotional abuse.

"In this case, you have contemporaneous police reports, you have women speaking to the FBI under threat of perjury ... you have photographs, and when you look at all of that pulled together, Rob Porter did the right thing by resigning," Conway told CNN's Jake Tapper on Sunday. "I have no reason not to believe the women."

Porter resigned from the White House on Wednesday after allegations surfaced that he physically beat and emotionally abused his two ex-wives from years prior, though he has denied any and all wrongdoing. But senior members of President Donald Trump's administration have come under serious scrutiny after it was reported that they knew of Porter's past and did nothing about it.

Porter has since reportedly told associates that he was told to "stay and fight" and said he "never misrepresented anything" about his past to Kelly.

In another interview, Conway appeared on ABC's "This Week," in which she told host George Stephanopoulos that the president still believed Kelly and Hicks were suited to fulfill their duties. It was reported that Kelly told Trump in recent days that he was willing to resign over the scandal.

"I spoke with the president last night about this very issue and he wanted me to reemphasize to everyone, including this morning, that he has full confidence in his current chief of staff, Gen. John Kelly, and that he is not actively searching for replacements," Conway said. "He also has full confidence in Hope Hicks, his communications director and long-serving aide."

She continued, "There are a lot of, I think, unsourced and thinly-sourced stories out there, but when it comes to those two individuals, the president ... has full confidence in their performance."

When asked if Kelly knew about the domestic abuse allegation, Conway said that he has "said otherwise" but that Stephanopoulos should ask him instead.

Conway also said the president was "disturbed" by the Porter story, but Trump defended Porter in his first public remarks about the incident and wished him well.

"Well, we wish him well. He [Porter] worked very hard. I found out about it recently and I was surprised by it," Trump said, as Salon has previously reported. "But we certainly wish him well, it's obviously a tough time for him." He had nothing to say about Porter's ex-wives, however.

Trump also sent a cryptic tweet on Saturday in which he questioned "due process" in the United States and said that careers have been "shattered" over "a mere allegation."

The irony is that Conway has insisted Trump remains confident in Hicks and Kelly, despite their roles in attempting to come to Porter's defense, and in Kelly's case, not taking action in months prior. Conway said this, of course, at the same time she said that she believes the ex-wives of Porter.

Meanwhile, budget director Mick Mulvaney said on Sunday that Trump and Kelly simply just gave Porter "the benefit of the doubt."


Charlie May

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