Fox's Ari Fleischer excuses the Trump administration's inaction on Rob Porter because it "could have been a he said, she said"

Fox's Ari Fleischer excuses the Trump administration's inaction on Rob Porter because it "could have been a he said, she said"

One of Porter's accusers released a photo of her bruises

Video ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

From the February 9 edition of Fox News' Outnumbered Overtime:

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HARRIS FAULKNER (HOST): And that was the president, as you know, we've been reporting this this hour as he's gotten on the record himself. Not his White House press team, not his chief of staff, but the president, on the record,reacting to Rob Porter's resignation and the controversy which has ensued. Let's talk more now with Ari Fleischer, former White House press secretary under President George W. Bush.

[...]

FAULKNER: I would press in with this question, there must have been some sort of conversation that the chief of staff would have been part of, and I'm not reading tea leaves here, that's not my job to do that. I'm just looking at how it's done and historically how these things get done with security clearances, where the question could have come up, well why isn't he given a security clearance? What is the issue? The FBI then would have been beholden to tell the chief of staff, or someone on the staff, why it was and then the question becomes why not set this individual aside, as you might do in a corporate setting, and try to figure out investigative -- try to figure out what happened and in the meantime not expose the president to somebody who might have some serious problems? 

ARI FLEISCHER: Well, here's exactly how it works. On January 20th, on the rush of a new administration coming in, the vetting council at the counsel's office in the White House and the FBI are flooded. They can't possibly clear everybody in time because there's too many coming in on day one. And so many people get interim clearances and then they quickly clear them up and they become permanent clearances. A year is an awful long time to have an interim clearance, something is a red flag.

FAULKNER: Yes.

FLEISCHER: Now, in fairness to [White House chief of staff] Gen. [John] Kelly, he's not there on January 20th. He's not part of the original administration that hired the staff. And so it would have been a previous administration that was responsible for the clearing process. Kelly comes in, at that point it's up to the counsel's office to go to the chief of staff proactively and say, "About the people who were here before you came in, we still have an issue with this one or with that one, and you need to know it." But then, Harris, it gets right back to my first point: what does the counsel's office know? They know what the FBI tells them and it could have been a he said, she said. It may not have been a clear case of we know we have somebody here who committed domestic violence. 

FAULKNER: Let me step in for one second, because this conversation now has perforated its way into another conversation that's been flying at 37,000 feet for longer than a year. So when you have something like an allegation of domestic violence against women and you're having a higher conversation about the treatment of women in this country, there should be some sort of thing where certain things are more important than others. It's not like he was accused of stealing Snickers bars out of the vending machine. I mean this is a conversation we're already having. Last word.

FLEISCHER: Fair point and here's how these things work, again there's two traps to it. One is a security trap where you may or may not get your clearance. As long as you're honest and you tell the FBI what happened, you'll get your clearance. But then there's a separate political trap where the White House has to make the decision, even though that person could get a clearance, even an interim one, is it worth it to us because we don't want this controversy on our hands. Obviously somebody at the White House made the judgment, "Yes, we want to keep him here." And the fact that he denied it is probably the tipping point. I suspect if Rob Porter had said, "Yeah it's true, I did do these things, I'm not like that anymore," I don't think any White House would've put him on board. So again it gets back to the basics of what do you do in he said, she saids, throughout America? Do you just throw everybody out if they are in the middle of a he said, she said? I don't know the answer to that, Harris. I do know that --

FAULKNER: Well we don't know because we can't see what the FBI --

FLEISCHER: -- it's a tragedy for the women involved. And we may never know the facts if it remains a he said, she said. 

Related:

Previously:

Fox News turns to Corey Lewandowski, who was charged with battery of a female reporter, for his take on Rob Porter

Jake Tapper: White House revealed its ignorance about what domestic abuse looks like after making excuses for Rob Porter

Fox & Friends didn't discuss Trump aide Rob Porter's history of reported domestic abuse but mentioned Obama 18 times

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