This is getting more twisted and uglier, by the day.
According to the Daily Beast, on Tuesday morning of this week, White House officials reached out to Senator Orrin Hatch, asking that the senior senator from Utah put together a statement of praise for his former chief of staff, and the then-White House staff secretary, Rob Porter.
As we now know, Rob Porter was forced to resign on Wednesday, after it was discovered that he has a past of domestic violence.
That Tuesday morning request of Hatch was done with full knowledge of what was coming. Those White House officials were trying to get out ahead of the bad news, in order to build a safe landing place for Porter.
The story was about to break in the Daily Mail, a UK tabloid, and the officials told Hatch’s office that it was a “smear campaign,” but they didn’t give him the important details. They simply passed it off as the work of his “political enemies.”
Hatch’s office sent the statement on, only finding out about what Porter was accused of, afterwards.
So who are the political enemies they were pointing at?
Well, Corey Lewandowski, Trump’s former campaign manager.
Multiple White House staffers told Hatch himself that Lewandowski “was digging into Rob’s previous marriages,” recalled one source, who said Porter himself was among the officials who fingered Lewandowski.
That’s an interesting little Peyton Place scenario they’re working.
For background, White House communication director Hope Hicks subjected herself to being touched by Lewandowski’s grabby little paws during the campaign, and now she’s moved on to another abusive louse, Porter.
So the ex-boyfriend is trying to sabotage the current boyfriend.
Hicks may be in it way too far, as she crafted the initial response to the breaking story of Porter’s abuse, and is said to secretly be telling colleagues that she doesn’t believe it.
Meanwhile, President Trump is said to be quite displeased with her for the response she put forth, saying she put her romantic life ahead of his image.
Not cool, Hope.
Lewandowski is playing the innocent.
Reached by phone on Thursday, Lewandowski flatly denied that he had anything to do with the allegations against Porter. “I’ve never had a bad word about Rob Porter,” he insisted. “I think he did a very good job, and I wish him the very best.” Lewandowski had, indeed, been speaking critically of Porter behind the scenes, as The Daily Beast previously reported. But he said he was surprised to learn that senior White House officials had implicated him in an alleged campaign to facilitate his ouster.
Why do I have no problem not believing a word coming out of Lewandowski’s mouth?
So they put Orrin Hatch on the hook for defending a woman-beater, they gave Trump’s administration reputation another black eye, and a former Trump team member may or may not be behind blowing the lid off of everything.
Reached by The Daily Beast on Thursday, after a day of withering questions on just those topics, a White House official said only that, “The White House feels misled by Mr. Porter’s characterization of the [then] impending allegations from his ex-wives.”
The “mischaracterization” the Trump administration is now claiming it was fed by Porter is roughly same characterization apparently given to Team Hatch—that the allegations against Porter were primarily limited to “verbal” disputes and not physical altercations.
Reports out earlier Friday say both White House counsel Don McGahn and White House Chief of Staff John Kelly have known for months. They were informed by the FBI of his past, and for that reason, he had difficulty obtaining full security clearance.
It’s another self-inflicted wound, and now we wait to see who it blows back on the hardest: John Kelly or Hope Hicks.