The Slatest

Trump Reportedly Asked Disgraced Spousal Abuser Rob Porter to Become White House Counsel Last Year

President Trump crosses arms sitting behind the desk in the Oval Office on August 27, 2018.
This freakin’ guy. Still president. MANDEL NGAN/Getty Images

There is, of course, a lot of competition, but the New York Times report Wednesday that President Trump repeatedly asked former White House Secretary Rob Porter to replace current White House Counsel Don McGahn is perhaps the most Donald Trump thing Donald Trump has ever done. The discussions, reportedly supported by Trump’s children and some other aides, took place last year and his courtship of Porter had all the telltale signs of a vintage Trump decision.

First, the rationale behind Trump’s desire to tap Porter was he was mad at McGahn. “Mr. Trump often blamed Mr. McGahn for the cloud the special counsel’s investigation had cast over the White House,” the Times reports. “He said Mr. McGahn should have done more to stop Mr. Sessions from recusing himself from the investigation, the decision Mr. Trump believes cleared the way for Mr. Mueller’s appointment in May 2017.”

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Second, Porter is wholly unqualified for the job, having practiced law only briefly after law school and told the president as much. Choosing unqualified people to fill demanding jobs is a familiar, self-destructive Trump maneuver that simultaneously allows Trump to thumb his nose at the entire concept of “demanding jobs” and “competence” while installing people around him that have neither the professional experience nor expertise to push back against the president’s whims.

Third, and perhaps most importantly, Porter, like every other player in Trump’s rapidly receding world, had serious, disqualifying moral shortcomings. Porter left the White House earlier this year after multiple, detailed accounts of domestic violence by two ex-wives came to light. Porter’s past spousal abuse was significant enough to prevent him from getting permanent security clearance. A keen judge of character, Trump, who may or may not have known about Porter’s personal life at the time, wanted to give Porter a promotion.

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