Kelly: 'I Have Absolutely Nothing to Even Consider Resigning Over'

White House Chief of Staff John Kelly pauses as he speaks to the media during the daily briefing in the Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House, Thursday, Oct. 19, 2017. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
White House Chief of Staff John Kelly pauses as he speaks to the media during the daily briefing in the Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House, Thursday, Oct. 19, 2017. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

White House Chief of Staff John Kelly insisted to reporters Friday there's nothing to make him think about resigning, amid recent questions over his handling of the Rob Porter domestic abuse allegations.

"I have absolutely nothing to even consider resigning over,” Kelly said during an impromptu briefing for about White House reporters.

Porter, the former White House staff secretary, resigned last month over reports that he had abused two ex-wives.

The former aide had failed to get a permanent security clearance, and the episode raised concerns about his access to classified information and about how long senior staffers had known about the allegations against him.

Kelly described himself as shocked by the alleged abuse, saying he had viewed Porter as the "ultimate gentleman."

Expressing some regret about how the situation was handled, Kelly acknowledged: "We didn't cover ourselves in glory in terms of how we handled that. It was confusing."

The White House has repeatedly tried to explain the timeline of events, something Kelly did again Friday.

Kelly told reporters he first learned of the allegations against Porter on Feb. 6, after inquiries from journalists. Kelly said those first queries focused on an allegation of "emotional abuse" from one woman. He said he then spoke to Porter, who resigned. Hours later, Kelly said, he learned there was also an accusation of physical abuse. At that point, Kelly said, he made sure that Porter was out.

Originally, the White House put out statements defending Porter, including one from Kelly. Kelly said he provided a statement of support for Porter after he heard only the first accusation.

"At that point in time, I thought the statement was accurate as it represented my relationship," Kelly said.

Kelly came under fire for his handling of the situation, during which the White House offered conflicting explanations. Initially, many top aides rallied around Porter and Hope Hicks, the White House communications director who was dating Porter and helped draft the original statements defending him. Hicks announced Wednesday that she will be leaving the administration.

Kelly said he had started looking into who had clearances and any delays in granting permanent clearances last fall. But he said he was not made aware of any specific allegations against Porter.

In the wake of the scandal over Porter, Kelly ordered that White House officials with interim clearances pending since before June 1, 2017, be cut off if they hadn't received permanent clearances by last Friday.

That move resulted in the president's son-in-law, Jared Kushner, being stripped of his high-level security clearance amid revelations about potential conflicts of interest.

Fox News’ John Roberts and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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