On Thursday, White House staff secretary Rob Porter left his post after reports came out that he had allegedly physically abused 2 of his ex-wives. Meanwhile, White House chief of staff John Kelly Porter apparently knew former Porter would be denied FBI security clearance several weeks ago, Eliana Johnson reports in Politico. ”For weeks before Porter crisis, Kelly told confidants he planned to push out everybody in WH denied full clearances. (There are a handful.) But he hadn’t acted. Then Porter situation blew up,” Johnson tweeted. Meanwhile, Paul Volpe shared this quote from the story: “Kelly’s inaction has produced what may be the deepest crisis of his seven months on the job.”
But apparently, dozens at White House lack permanent security clearances, Josh Dawsey, Matt Zapotosky, and Devlin Barrett write in the Washington Post. “It's not just Rob Porter. 13 months in, dozens at White House lack permanent security clearances, including Jared Kushner,” Dawsey added on Twitter.
Rob Porter’s History of Domestic Abuse Wasn’t a Secret. It’s Just That No One Cared, Dahlia Lithwick condemns in her Slate piece. Susan Matthews shared this power quote from the story: "Please stop saying that women don’t tell. These women told." “1. Bad: They knew and didn't care. 2: Worse: They thought they could keep it secret. 3: Worst: They think 1 and 2 are how everyone behaves,” Nell Minow explained in her tweet.
Indeed, Josh Dawsey and Beth Reinhard back that up with their Washington Post piece that Top White House officials knew of abuse allegations against top aide Rob Porter for months. “Don McGahn knew of the ex-wife abuse accusations for a year. He heard at least three times. John Kelly knew for months. FBI findings arrived at White House last summer. Most everyone knew. But Rob Porter stayed and rose,” reads Dawsey’s damning tweet.
Over at The Daily Beast, Lachlan Markay and Asawin Suebsaeng say the Trump White House fingered Corey Lewandowski in what they’re calling a Rob Porter ‘Smear Campaign.’ Noah Rothman has another take on the situation: ‘So, this has all been a ‘This Means War’ situation with Hope Hicks in the role of Reese Witherspoon.”
Meanwhile, here’s an explanation of the Unwelcome Attention for John Kelly, the Man Enlisted to Bring Calm from the New York Times’ Peter Baker and Maggie Haberman. “Incredible — the @nytimes reports that Trump has been complaining about John Kelly to none other than Reince Priebus,” Chris Megerian writes. And here’s Ashley Feinberg with the best take of them all, “Ivanka is definitely the next chief of staff right.”
“Has Anyone Seen the President?” Michael Lewis asks in what Joe Weisenthal his “big, new Bloomberg View piece.” Edward Evans explained, “Michael Lewis goes to Washington in search of Trump.” Rebecca Ungarino added, “New Michael Lewis piece on Trump and Brannon and some handyman named Bigs will be a dark bizarre fixture in my brain for the rest of the day.”
The dumbest shutdown ever
Congress was on edge as the budget deal neared a vote, Ali Rogin and Devin Dwyer at ABC News reported during their ongoing updates overnight. “Here's the latest on WTF is happening in the Senate right now,” Ali Weinberg tweeted.
Rachael Bade and Seung Min Kim declared it The dumbest shutdown ever in Politico. And that's all we have to say about that.
Now that the government isn’t shut down, Sen. Tim Kaine is demanding the release of the secret Trump war powers memo, according to Heidi Przybyla at NBC News. “Sen. Kaine demanding the release of a secret memo outlining President Trump’s interpretation of his legal authority to wage war, according to letter obtained by @NBCNews,” Micah Grimes explained. Przybyla also went on Morning Joe today to discuss her piece.
Elsewhere, Democratic Sen. Mark Warner apparently texted with a Russian oligarch lobbyist in an effort to contact dossier author Christopher Steele, according to Ed Henry at Fox News. Chris Salcedo called Warner a “slime-ball.” While Chris Geidner pointed out that it’s “Shocking that Fox News waited until the 34th, 35th, and 36th paragraphs of this Warner texts "EXCLUSIVE" to explain the key context here.” “My favorite part of this story: The unnamed GOP source code complaining (leaking) about the unnamed Dem source (leaking) about apparent leaks by the GOP. Head spinning but perhaps a natural byproduct of intel panel rules,” Josh Gerstein tweeted. Oh, wait, cause then Marco Rubio chimed in: “Sen.Warner fully disclosed this to the committee four months ago. Has had zero impact on our work.”
‘I miss my wife, the kids’
Trump administration may target immigrants who use food aid or other benefits, Yeganeh June Torbati reports in a Reuters exclusive. “The Trump administration is considering making it harder for foreigners to get permanent residency if they have received public benefits like food assistance,” Scott Bixby explained.
Over at Vox, Dara Lind explains Trump’s draft plan to punish legal immigrants for sending US-born kids to Head Start. “We got a copy of a draft regulation that could bar immigrants from green cards if they sent their US-born kids to Head Start. So we're sharing it with you,” Lind shared on Twitter.
In other immigration news, ‘pillar of the community' Amer Adi was deported from the US to a land he barely knows in Jordan, according to Jomana Karadsheh and Kareem Khadder at CNN. @GideonResnick shared a heartbreaking quote from the story: "’I miss my wife, the kids,’ he said, choking back tears. ‘I miss Youngstown. I miss everybody.’" Brian Martucci just called it “really sad.”
Massacre in Myanmar
In a special report, Reuters reporters Wa Lone, Kyaw Soe Oo, Simon Lewis, and Antoni Slodkowski explain How Myanmar forces burned, looted and killed in a remote village. The story from the village of Inn Dinn says 10 Rohingya Muslim captives lay dead in a shallow grave dug by their Buddhist neighbors. At least two were hacked to death, the rest were shot by Myanmar troops.
According to the BBC, the 2 reporters who worked on the story in the country (Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo) were arrested under Myanmar’s Official Secrets Act, which dates back to the time of colonial British rule. The charges carry a maximum 14-year prison sentence.
He did it!
The Winter Olympics also opened last night and Joshua Robinson has new in the Wall Street Journal that the Shirtless Tongan Flag-Bearer Also Went Shirtless in Pyeongchang. “Did you think the Tongan flag-bearer WASN'T going to go shirtless in 26-degree weather in Pyeongchang?” Sara Germano teased. “UPDATE: He did it!” Ben Cohen rejoiced.
Shocking and angering
The Guardian’s Sam Levin discovered documents which show California police worked with neo-Nazis to pursue 'anti-racist' activists. If you’re wondering what ‘anti-racist’ means, it’s the counter-protesters and activists who show up to violent white nationalist events spreading love and peace.
- “CA police not only ignored claims of violent white supremacists, they worked with the white supremacists to identify and pursue counter-protesters,” Astead Herndon wrote.
- “Doesn't matter who you are, if you are attacked police investigate,” Dan Gainor countered.
- Brendan O'Connor shared this tweet from the piece: “It is shocking and angering to see the level of collusion and the amount to which the police covered up for the Nazis.”
- “The problem is the police,” Sam Thielman concluded.
- Thom Dunn had one more thing to share: “‘The officer wrote that the man’s 'support for anti-racist activism' demonstrated his 'intent and motivation to violate the civil rights' of the neo-Nazi group.’ ARE YOU KIDDING ME.”
The political team Sky News is looking for a new editorial assistant and many Muck Rackers think it’s a terrific opportunity. Beth Rigby tweeted it with: “*Great job alert*” While Jim Waterson explained, “Sky News is hiring an editorial assistant for its Westminster desk. If you want to do political journalism but don't think it's for people like you then apply, because otherwise, it'll never change.”
Fox & Friends is also looking for a Head Writer right now. “OMG. There is an open spot for literally the most influential job in America. Quick, apply!” Sarah Seltzer urged. While Luke O’Neil encouraged everyone to look for the “Shocking twist at the end of this Fox and Friends job posting.”