Trump still has ‘full confidence’ in chief of staff John Kelly, says Kellyanne Conway

Counselor to the President Kellyanne Conway said President Donald Trump still has “full confidence” in his chief of staff and his communications director.

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Conway told ABC News Chief Anchor George Stephanopoulos on “This Week” Sunday that Trump continues to have confidence in Chief of Staff John Kelly and Communications Director Hope
Hicks, despite reports that Kelly expressed a willingness to resign over his handling of allegations of domestic abuse against Rob Porter, the White House staff secretary. Porter has since resigned.

“I spoke with the president last night about this very issue and he wanted me to reemphasize to everyone, including this morning, that he has full confidence in his current chief of staff, Gen. John Kelly, and that he is not actively searching for replacements,” Conway said.

Yuri Gripas/Reuters, FILE
President Donald Trump gestures next to White House Chief of Staff John Kelly during a briefing with senior military leaders at the White House in Washington, D.C., Oct. 5, 2017.

“He also has full confidence in Hope Hicks, his communications director and long-serving aide,” Conway said. “There are a lot of, I think, unsourced and thinly-sourced stories out there, but when it comes to those two individuals, the president … has full confidence in their performance.”

Porter resigned last week amid multiple allegations of domestic abuse by two ex-wives, although he refuted what he called the “outrageous allegations” that are “simply false.”

An initial statement by Kelly responding to news of the abuse claims called Porter “a man of true integrity and honor,” according to the Daily Mail which broke the story Tuesday night.

On Wednesday evening, Kelly issued a new statement saying he was “shocked by the new allegations,” adding “there is no place for domestic violence in our society.”

Multiple sources tell ABC News that senior members of Trump’s administration knew for months that there was a personal issue hanging over Porter delaying his White House security clearance. However, although senior White House staff were aware of the domestic abuse allegations by Porter’s ex-wives, they did not know the full extent of the claims, senior administration officials said.

PHOTO: President Donald Trump talks with new White House Chief of Staff John Kelly after he was privately sworn in during a ceremony in the Oval Office with President Donald Trump, July 31, 2017, in Washington, D.C.Evan Vucci/AP, FILE
President Donald Trump talks with new White House Chief of Staff John Kelly after he was privately sworn in during a ceremony in the Oval Office with President Donald Trump, July 31, 2017, in Washington, D.C.

Deputy Press Secretary Raj Shah said Thursday that Kelly did not have “detailed updates about what may or may not have been alleged.”

On Sunday on “This Week,” Conway raised doubts about how long Kelly may have known about the claims.

Stephanopoulos said, “There’s credible reporting that… both chief of staff John Kelly and the White House counsel had known about these allegations for – for several months.”

Conway responded, “Well, General Kelly has said otherwise, and you would have to ask him the questions.”

Stephanopoulos pressed, “So he’s now, he’s now denying that he knew about these allegations for months?”

“You would have to talk to General Kelly about that,” she said.

In a separate interview on “This Week,” Stephanopoulos asked former New Jersey Governor and ABC News contributor Chris Christie if Trump needs a new chief of staff.

“Does John Kelly have to go?” Stephanopoulos asked.

Christie responded that “the president has got to make that call.”

“I think in the end, we’ve got to hear from John Kelly as to what he knew, and we haven’t heard that directly from him yet,” Christie said. ” And I think the president needs to hear that before he can make an evaluation of competence. In the end, George, this is about competence, and you have to, as the chief of staff, be able to competently run the place.”

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