The Thinker: Rich Galen


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Deny, Deny, Deny

Rich Galen

Monday February 12, 2017

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  • I am pretty certain you did not discuss the matter of Rob Porter having been accused of spousal abuse with the checkout person at your Harris Teeter over the weekend unless your Harris Teeter is, like mine, inside the Beltway.

  • Mr. Porter's alleged right hook was the subject of heavy discussion around here.

  • In short whether Porter punched his wife (as her black eye suggests) or whether her bruise was the result of a tussle, as he put it, over a vase, took a back seat to the twin issues of (1) who-know-what-and-when?, and (2) How many senior Trump staffers are still without a permanent security clearance and why?

  • As with most things connected to the Trump White House, those who are anti-Trumpers immediately say this as yet another example of the unceasing, cascading, maybe criminal, dysfunction at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

  • Those who are pro-Trumpers, on the other hand, see this as another example of the press corps finding one blade of crab grass on the 11th hole at Augusta and pronouncing the otherwise perfect fairway, a 505-yard unplayable lie.

  • As usual, the answer is someplace in the middle.

  • There is an issue in this Administration of looking the other way when high-level appointees have played fast and loose with their financial disclosure forms, their security forms, and their testimony before Congress.

  • Appointees to jobs in what is known as the Executive Office of the President (EOP) are not subject to Senate confirmation. They are, however, subject to official background checks - typically by the FBI to determine whether they present a threat to the nation.

  • Remember that Michael Flynn was fired from his job at the National Security Council. Was Flynn ever a physical danger to the President? Probably not. But, the Department of Justice, which knew about his lying about meeting with the Russian Ambassador, warned the White House he was subject to potential blackmail by the Russians.

  • Jared Kushner, Trump's son-in-law, is allegedly operating under an interim security clearance which, according to a WaPo piece has made White House Counsel Donald McGahn loathe to make a big deal about the "dozens" of other high-ranking White House employees who can't seem to get a permanent clearance.

  • One of whom was Rob Porter.

  • Porter probably presented no physical threat to the President, either, but his security clearance appears to been held up because both of his ex-wives had accused him of physical and/or emotional attacks.

  • This, you can see, might have also opened Porter up to blackmail pressures.

  • Trump's fury over Porter's having left his job as Staff Secretary, does not appear to be because the President didn't know anything about it; but because Trump likes Porter and was angry because no one came to him to organize Porter's public defense.

  • Porter's defense (as Trump would have counseled) was: I didn't do it (injured his wife), and even if I did do it, it's not what you think (see: The Vase Defense).


    The "Vase Defense" via the Washington Post:

    "[Porter] has privately told others that they were arguing over a vase, and she was somehow hit with the vase."


  • Donald Trump has denied each and every charge of abuse including the ones he admitted to on the Access Hollywood bus.

  • In January 1998, Bill Clinton denied he ever "had sexual relations with that woman, [Monica] Lewinsky." He lied then and kept lying - in fact sending members of his Cabinet out to lie on his behalf - until he stopped lying by admitting he had lied in a speech in August of that year.

  • Clinton was impeached by the House (but not convicted by the Senate), he lost his law license for five years, and had to pay almost $1 million in settlements and fines for his Lewinsky and other misdeeds.

  • But, he served out his term.

  • Compare and contrast that with former Senator Al Franken who copped to everything he had been accused of and was sent packing in a matter of weeks.

  • I've had clearances now and again. They're a pain to deal with, but I was always told to take care and answer all the questions fully and honestly. I've done face-to-face interviews with contractors, with Defense Department investigators, and with the FBI (depending upon what I was being cleared for).

  • I don't think I have ever been privy to state secrets so, I'm not sure it mattered.

  • On the Secret Decoder Ring page today: Excellent links today: To Rob Porter story, to Michael Flynn's Wikipedia entry, to an annotated list of Clinton punishments, and to the Washington Post piece on temporary clearances at the White House.

    The Mullfoto is from a motor scooter parked along Connecticut Avenue.

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